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SIOUX CITY | One weekend a year, a Sioux City chiropractor puts on pantaloons and picks up his big black drum to become the Scoundrel Fishing Rod.
It's become a tradition for Rod Gaskell, one of the founders of Sioux City’s annual Renaissance fair. River-Cade will celebrate its 11th Gathering of the Kingdom of Riverssance at Riverside Park on Oct. 4 and 5.
Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, the Scoundrel among them, festival-goers can step back in time to jolly ol’ England with hundreds of costumed characters, Celtic bands, jousting and smoked turkey legs fit for a queen.
By his account, Rod was roped into the merriment by Phil Claeys. The River-Cade event coordinator always wanted to do a Renaissance festival, but he had never been to one.
Rod and his wife, Diane, had been going to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for 14 years when the man who would become the “Fallen Friar Phil” tapped them for their expertise on all things related to "pirates, peasants and ye olde performers."
Eventually, Rod agreed to go to a meeting, which turned out to be the first of many. Diane got in on it, too, coordinating some 60-70 vendors.
Outfitted in a long skirt and corset top with billowing sleeves, Diane keeps the merchants in check, making sure they embrace the look of 16th century England and dress the part to herald their goods.
There’s the “net lady” and the blacksmith, vendors selling kilts and other Celtic items, children’s toys, pottery and wine. People sell rocks, leather items, walking sticks and food, of course.
Ahead of the event, Rod is in charge of getting the taps flowing from a makeshift pub.
He’s also the “keeper of the mighty cannon” and performs a variety of other odd jobs leading up to the event. During the two-day festival, he drums around the area to set the ambiance, and he leads everything from the children’s scavenger hunt to the dead keg parade.
It's merriment that can't be missed.