Friday, January 9, 2009

Spotlight on the Louisiana Tournoi Queen

Leigh Phillips of Sulphur is Queen over one of the most colorful and historic Louisiana events, Le Tournoi. This tournament traces its roots back to the town’s founding by its first mayor, a major from Napoleon’s army who was enamored of the French tradition of knights in armor riding horseback and fighting with heavy lances. For most of the 19th century, Ville Platte held similar tournaments four or five times a year as major sporting events, which faded in popularity at the dawn of the 20th. Le Tournoi returned mid-century, eventually becoming a feature of the Cotton Festival, and has continued to this day, with knights on horseback racing a track while trying to spear the most rings; the winner receives his prize from the Queen and together they reign over the evening’s ball. As is clear from these photos, Leigh, the 60th Louisiana Tournoi Queen, is no slouch herself when it comes to horses--she can ride to her own rescue! And that's not the only arena in which she excels: she was named Calcasieu Parish Student of the Year in 2009.

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