Salsair holds one of the greatest festivals in
all of Santharia, the Festival of the
Horse. It is a week long festival, where the
horse is placed front and center. It was primarily a
Centoraurian festival that has
grown through the years, to where it draws people from all over the continent. As
the Festival of the Horse is not a religious festival, it attracts people of many different
backgrounds, and races. Thus every fifth summer, in the second week of
Burning Heavens, Salsair becomes the
center of one of the largest peaceful gatherings of diverse peoples in the
Location. Salsair lies in the province of Vardżnn. The festival grounds proper are located just outside the city. Days in advance, tents and stands are set up by vendors, merchants and performers. A large oval racing ring was built to accommodate the races, and this is the only permanent structure here, complete with large stands of seats. The area in the center of this oval is where some of the other events are held, in a fighting ring, and there is a stage here for the Grande Pageant. Around this area, a veritable nomadic settlement springs up every five years, where everyone lives during the festival.
Events. The Festival of the Horse in Salsair features the following events:
A straight forward rider and horse combination that shows off the skill of the rider and the speed of the horse. When it began, this race was a straight race from where the festival grounds stood over a required length. After 1437, it becomes a race around a long oval. It would not be until 1462 before a non-Centoraurian horse and rider would win this event. In that year, an Azhorhrian horse and rider won the event.
A race where a team of horses pulls a wagon combined with a strength event where a wagon laden with barrels of water needs to be pulled a certain distance. Each year it is won by teams of either Sarvonian draught horses, or the Kev'lor horse.
A fast and exciting event, where teams of horses pull a chariot around the racing oval.
A wild horse is ridden by a warrior and it is timed. Those who can subdue their mount the quickest are considered the winner. The majority of the winners have been Remusian. Very few Centoraurians enter this event, as they deem it cruel to the horses. In all, it is considered one of the more barbaric events, and looked down on by most of the Centoraurians. However, many other people find this one of the more exciting events. It has proven to be a very hotly debated event, and very decisive.
The same as horse breaking, but wild wison are used. This is strictly a timed event, as no one would be able to subdue their mount. Whomever stays on the back of their beast the longest is considered the winner. The Ice Tribes introduced this event in 1662, and with few exceptions, they have been the only participants. Considered by many to be a gimmick more than a real event, it does not yet hold the same prestige as other events.
A festival favourite, where great cooks battle it out to see who has the tastiest recipes. This event is done daily with each day representing a new dish: pork one day, dessert another day, etc. This happens outside the oval, in a large pavilion tent that is in the heart of the festival grounds. Judges are gathered from various areas of the kingdom to taste each of the dishes prepared. For the first time, in 1662, Dame Sausade was one of the judges. She has come a long way from the winner of this event in 1652.
Smiths come from far and wide to create the best masterpieces. Like the cook-off, each day is a new item: best horseshoes, best sword, etc. A dwarven favourite. Like the cook-off as well, it is held in the festival grounds, where a special area is set up with multiple forges. It is a large draw. Since its inaugural year in 1497, the dwarves have won each year, but for one. In 1547, a Centoraurian smith won it, though it was a hotly contested outcome. The dwarves almost boycotted the event the next year, but after much negotiation, were talked into returning. The current winner also won this event back in 1512, and has won it 12 times since, including a 15 year stretch from 1632-1637.
Archery skills are spotlighted. It is split into riding and non-riding parts. Currently, this is one event where the competitor's scores are added together from the archery and mounted archery events, but at the behest of the elves, it will be split into two events in the coming years. The elves have mastered the archery competition, but have complained that they were unfairly penalized in the mounted events.
A horse, a warrior, and a lance. May the best rider win. This was the event that started the festival. It is still considered the regal event. The winner here receives more accolades than any other event winner. In recent years, the Kuglimz have been dominating this event. Their big, powerful Kevílor horses have just been too much for the finely built Centoraurian horses to master. Beginning at the next festival, in 1672, there will be two categories, a light horse joust, and a heavy horse joust.
Battle of the Sword
Sword fighting is highlighted, where individuals battle until one calls for quarter, or is fairly beaten. Although one of the oldest events, it is the antithesis of the joust. It is considered somewhat of a brutish event, and the winners here receive little in the way of accolades. As a side note, a half-orc, named Auguyst Palfenohr won this event in 1642. It was the first and only time a half-orc has participated in the festival.
The same as the Battle of the Sword, but any weapon may be entered. Again, this event is considered a poor manís event and not regarded highly. As with the Battle of the Sword, this event was won by the half-orc Auguyst Palfenohr in 1642.
A test of skill between the bird and the trainer. Held at the festival grounds with the Forging and Cook-off events. Competitors are judged on the beauty of their birds, and the degree of training of the birds. The birds themselves are scored when they are set loose on taenish, as their accuracy and speed are judged.
A new event in 1667, it has yet to be proven. It has been incorporated in an attempt to make the Shendar people feel more welcome to the Festival.
A nightly closing of the days competition, which includes singers, dancers, acrobats, mages, jesters, bards and a fireworks display. A crowd favourite and a prestigious event for the performers involved. Taking place within the oval, it begins right after the dayís last event, usually around Sundown. - A typical Grande Pageant would look something like this:
An opening orchestral song, with a rousing chorus singing. Designed to get everyone involved in what is to come.
A Master of the Festival addresses the crowd, welcoming everyone to the festival.
Another song or two with the chorus, as well as dancers performing.
Acrobats take the stage. Braelachim the Younger is featured, performing his high wire antics for the crowdís amazement. His specialty is his mastery of two long lengths of cloth that hang from ropes strung high overhead. He performs feats of strength and dexterity while winding himself up the rope, then he unwinds himself in a flurry of movement that brings him down the lengths, leaving the crowd gasping as they think he is about to fall. At times, his sister, Laylinida, joins him and the two are entwined as they perform.
Another song and dance.
A bard is featured, who sings and tells wondrous yarns of derring do. Some of his tales are adventurous, while some are farcical. It definitely keeps the younger members of the crowd entertained.
Jesters perform, giving the crowd some fun and laughs. Again, the children are the main targets of this show. Sometimes candy is tossed to those children closest to the stage.
More song and dance.
Mages perform wonders of magic, which ends with the eveningís climax, a fireworks display, featuring mages from the Tower of Fire performing an amazing display of the Sparkling Stream spell. The night sky is lit to where one might think it midday.
As well, while the contests are held
during the day, entertainers perform for the crowd all day long, by
those not famous enough to be featured in the Grande Pageant. Merchants
hawk their wares, exotic animals are displayed, vendors prepare quick
meals, and games of chance can be found almost everywhere. A showcase of
the many tribes is presented. As well, it is a favourite festival for
the notorious Black
Butterfly Rovers. It is here that livestock shows are held, where
little money is won, but traders and breeders can make a name for
themselves. Pig races are held at the tilting field when there are no
jousting events. This is always a crowd favourite. For the children,
there are rides on
Sarvonian draught ponies.
Famous People Associated with the Festival. There are various names that have to be mentioned when talking about the great Festival of the Horse in Salsair:
He created the games, and it started as a two day event where the best of the Centoraurian horsemen gathered to see who was the best.
He saw the possibilities of this kind of competition and publicly sanctioned it, thereby increasing the popularity of it, and saving it from obscurity.
Braelachim the Magnificent
Brought a festival quality to the competition, and became a famous entertainer who delighted audience each year until his death at the event, when he fell from a high wire. His son, Braelachim the Younger, replaced him after his death in 1652.
During the course of the week long festival, the population of Salsair
can be almost double. It is a period of boon to the city. Inns are
always booked solid, at greatly inflated prices compared to the rest of
the year, and all manner of wares can be found. This huge influx of
visitors greatly affects the economy. Though the price of everything
goes up considerably, the locals usually have made arrangements with
their local merchants to get products at the rate available the rest of
the year. Extra soldiers are brought in from neighbouring cities, to
help keep the peace, though there have never been any major disturbances
associated with the festival. Petty crimes are increased, but that is to
be expected with the gathering of that many people.
History/Origin. Most of the events that are used in competition here were all skills that the ancient horse warriors excelled at. Where individual warriors would compete to see who was the best, now they are used to entertain the large crowds. People travel far and wide to attend these games, and they are a status symbol to the elite of Santharia.