Swords clash, sparks fly — "knights" put on a show at fairgrounds in Pocatello
One of the participants in the Tournament of Champions acknowledges the audience's applause following their performance Friday night.

    POCATELLO — With sparks flying as swords clashed, the crowd was transported back in time.

    The first two showings of the Knights of the Realm was taking place on Friday night at the North Bannock County Fair. The jousting and sword fighting was met with enthusiastic cheers.

    The Tournament of Champions, a medieval theatrical performance group from Brownsville, Ore., came for more than just a performance.

    “We’re helping out 4-H,” said Greg Hopla, the owner and creator of the show. “It’s important for the community to take part in it. Every kid should learn about animals.”

    In addition to the show supporting 4-H, Hopla has family in Eastern Idaho.

    “I’ve never really had a chance to visit because I’ve been traveling all over the world,” Hopla said. “I thought it would be appropriate when we went to the fair association to be able to come to Pocatello.”

    With the poor economy and more people looking for local events to attend, the idea developed to bring the event to people who might not be able to travel long distances to see such a professional show.

    “It’s more like something you’d see in Las Vegas,” said Ken Jennings, one of the performers.

    The Tournament of Champions began about six years ago. The group has a workshop to make its own weapons and armor. The company has even made items that have been used at Universal Studios and Excalibur and Medieval Times.

     Hopla worked as a show director at Medieval Times for a number of years. The company has done shows in Spain and Canada, and once out-sold a Black Eyed Peas show in Mexico.

    The Tournament of Champions will perform at the North Bannock County Fair today at 8 p.m. More information on the group can be found at www.tournament-of-champions.com/ or the YouTube channel moderndayknights1.