SIOUX CITY | Riverside Park was transformed Saturday into a time-capsule that transported visitors to the era of Leonardo da Vinci and William Shakespeare as the 9th annual Riverssance Festival got under way.
The two-day festival was filled with food, clothing and music inspired by the Renaissance time period. It picks up again Sunday afternoon in the park, 1301 Riverside Boulevard.
During the fair, people visited stands to see how wool was spun and leather satchels made. Kids gathered around Andy Mills’ blacksmith booth for one of his “eternal suckers” – a strip of metal, melted and pounded before their eyes to take the swirly form of a lollipop.
“You've got to remember this lollipop lasts forever, but it doesn't taste very good,” Mills said as he heated up the metal.
Mills, who dresses in a kilt and takes on the persona of “Uncle Stinky” at the fair, said he picked up blacksmithing about two years ago.
"Mostly it’s just practice, going to a bunch of fairs and making a lot of stuff,” he said.
Although he had an array of knives and swords on display, he said he would spend most of his time hammering away at the lollipops, which he gave away for free.
“I love making stuff for the kids. It makes them laugh and you can see the excitement in their face,” he said.
Madilynn Tarno, 6, of South Sioux City, got one of the suckers. She came to the fair with her parents and younger sister Sabryna, 4.
“They look forward to this every year. It’s a new experience for them. New things to see and explore,” said Lindsey Tarno, Madilynn’s mom.
Near-by, Megan Payne and A.J. Richardson, of Hawarden, Iowa, practiced their fencing techniques with padded dueling swords that they picked up at the fair.
“It’s just something fun to do together, a bit of “marriage counseling,” Richardson said, adding that the couple would be getting married in November.
The two had attended the Coronation Tournament after buying the swords and Richardson said they picked up a few fencing ideas from that.
Phil Claeys, the event organizer, was dressed as the “Fallen Friar Phil,” as he sat in the event’s pub.
“A renaissance festival is totally unique. It’s not an art festival, or a music festival. It’s everything combined and themed to the 1600's. Where else can you grab a giant turkey leg and watch a sword fight?” Claeys said.
More than 200 costumed characters milled about the festival, including the headlining performers, The Rogues.
Amy Foltz, of Sioux City, joined the growing crowd listening to the Celtic band's performance on Saturday afternoon.
"I came just to see them live. I've seen them on YouTube and they are always so full of energy. All of their music they play with heart,” she said.
In the background, the band finished up a version of "Amazing Grace" and moved on to an upbeat song that had people tapping their feet and doing little jigs.