Riverssance 2014

Shawn Crawford, right, of Kansas City, and Matt Schantz, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, fight with swords during a Brotherhood of Steel demonstration at Riverssance at Riverside Park on Oct. 4.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

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SIOUX CITY | From roller coasters to jousting tournaments, Sioux City's Riverside Park has featured a little bit of everything over the past century.

Located along the Big Sioux River, the park is a draw for anglers, as well as local arts festivals and other recreational activities.

One of the first attractions ever brought to Riverside Park was the "Switchback Pleasure Railway," a roller coaster built in the 1890s, where the Sioux City Community Theatre is now located. Later additions included the "Figure Eight" roller coaster and the "Giant Swing," both situated around Council Oak Drive.

A new amusement park with a much wider variety of rides, called Riverview Park, was opened in 1927. It was located in the southern portion of today's park, but ceased operations in 1953.

The Gordon Twin Drive-in Theater was erected in its place soon after, but was demolished to make room for a section of Interstate 29.

Today's Riverside Park has abandoned some of the thrills of an amusement venue to take on a more traditional role. With ample green space, playground equipment and a swimming pool, the spot now serves as a public area for light recreation.

Recently, the park hosted the annual Riversssance Festival, which brings professional jousting, swordfighting and other medieval fare to the edge of the Big Sioux.

The park also has been home to the ArtSplash Festival, a two-day exhibition for visual and performance artists. The event raises money for the Sioux City Art Center each summer.

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