Le Tournoi de la Ville Platte
“Tournoi”, which means tournament in French, is the ancient sporting event of jousting. It was first followed by the knights of France. Major Marcellin Garand, an officer in Napoleon’s army, founder and first major of Ville Platte, brought Le Tournoi to Louisiana.
Le Tournoi was introduced in the early 1800’s and ran until the late 1880’s when it was the abandoned for unknown reasons. Judge J.D. Buller is accredited with reviving Le Tournoi along with a group of patriotic WWII veterans in 1948. For the first two years of its rebirth, Le Tournoi was run as part of the Fourth of July festivities. When the Louisiana Cotton Festival came into existence in 1952 it was dropped as a Fourth of July festivity and began to run in conjunction with the Louisiana Cotton Festival instead. In 1958 the Louisiana Tournoi Association was charted and states that a Tournoi can take place anywhere, but the championship must take place in Ville Platte each year.
Le Tournoi requires horsemanship, skill and accuracy. The knights wear their traditional garb while riding horseback at neck breaking speeds around a semicircular quarter mile track. Carrying long slender lances, the daring knight attempts to spear and retain all seven of the small rings that are suspended on posts around the track. The seven rings symbolize the seven enemies of cotton which are flood, drought, boll weevil, bollworm, silk, rayon and nylon. The knight run three heats each to decide the new champion.