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Coronavirus knocks out 2020 Riverssance celebration in Sioux City
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Coronavirus knocks out 2020 Riverssance celebration in Sioux City

Riverssance 2019

In this October 2019 file photo, Stephanie Finley, of Sioux City, throws an axe during Riverssance at Riverside Park in Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY -- The 17th Gathering of the Kingdom of Riverssance Festival will not play out in Sioux City in October, as organizers have ruled it could not be safely held during the coronavirus pandemic.

Phil Claeys, the Sioux City man who helped launch Riverssance in 2004, on Monday said he hated to call off the festival that involves 100 participants and draws from 8,000 to 10,000 people to Riverside Park.

"With concerns about the plague, we are canceling the Riverssance. It was decided pretty much unanimously that it is to unsafe to hold it," Claeys said.

"I guess common sense kicked in (Sunday)."

He said a Sunday meeting of core volunteers, or "foot soldiers," of the festival, resulted in the decision.

Riverssance is one of the activities affiliated with the annual River-Cade festival, as is a youth fishing derby. Claeys said another new cancellation includes that derby, which was to have been held at Bacon Creek Park on Sept. 12.

Claeys said the strong majority of Renaissance festivals nationally have been called off. He said one of the most renowned, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, will still begin in late September, but attendance is being limited.

In Sioux City, the proximity to the Missouri River resulted in the Riverssance name. People don period medieval dress to portray jousting knights and wicked wenches over two days, and some of the festival faves are Mud Man, Sir Robert and the Crow Sisters.

At the 16th annual Gathering of the Kingdom of Riverssance Festival, the thief (Matt Hattorf) proposed to the unsuspecting herald (Miranda Vint) before the jousting match. Vint accepted.

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To date, Woodbury County has tallied 3,662 COVID-19 infections, according to state data. Of these, 3,283 (about 89.7 percent) are considered recovered, according to the Siouxland District Health Department. 

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