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Siouxland’s County Fairs, Clay County, Spencer

30 Sep

Every summer I try to attend a couple county fairs. But haven’t been too successful the last couple of years because of conflicting schedules. This year though I did travel to Spencer to visit the Clay County Fair. It’s a rather large affair, bigger than some closer to my home but still encompassing those quintessential elements that all county fairs incorporate. One is 4-H and FFA where kids exhibit their projects for the year whether it’s agricultural in nature or another kind of project.

Controlled chaos as 4-H members show their sows during a competition at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And people stroll the midway and take in the sights that only fairs offer.

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes a photo of her kids with her phone during the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family enjoys the rides at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One young boy was admiring his freshly painted “ghoulish” face in the reflection of a doorway, not noticing a photographer standing nearby. Another couple was immortalizing their visit to the fair together.

A young boy checks out his newly painted face in a reflection of a doorway at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jayden Helbing, left center, an Bailey Houston, right center, and both of Sioux Rapids, get their caricature drawn by Rex Rubenzer of Wisconsin at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs are where people come for a little down home entertainment. Some may think it a relic of the past but for small communities it’s one of those passing seasonal venues that people look forward to, relaxing (unless you are a 4-H parent), the chance to eat “bad” fair food like Funnel Cakes and cotton candy, take in some wholesome entertainment and a chance to forget about day to day activities. And these days, hopefully no politicians stopping by to impress people. A place where sometimes families enjoy reunions.

A family finishing taking a reunion photo catches another photographer taking a picture as well at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So fairs can wear one out walking about and taking in all the exhibits but people still do it and enjoy it and look forward again to next year to repeat the affair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sometimes too much fair time can take a toll on a person as a man catches a nap in the shade at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving through Nature in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

16 Sep

Some days driving about Siouxland I just enjoy the look of nature, even if it incorporates a bit of agriculture. It’s still bucolic and relaxing and away from any glitz and hubbub of life in any fast lane. Cows are only interested if you brought any feed with you as long as you are stopping by. They gaze, then go about grazing again, just enjoying the day and the quiet of the countryside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bucolic scene in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bucolic scene in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Aug

A summer’s day in rural Plymouth County, IowaThursday, Aug.9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around Siouxland it is hard not to see a bucolic scene along the highways and byways. Part of the charm of “flyover” country is that it appears peaceful and unhurried. That is not always the case as evidenced by news stories. And for those who are on a pell-mell journey to arrive at their next destination before they left their current place, forever is a word that pops up often on the trip.

But that is the allure of such a place. Quiet, slow, peaceful and calm. And enjoying the moment that is presented here and now.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Supporting Agriculture in Siouxland, Dordt College in Sioux Center

20 May

Every spring Dordt College in Sioux Center hosts an Ag Day, which coincides with part of its educational mission in helping sustain agriculture in Siouxland and in general. There are at times a variety of equipment parked on campus, new stuff and old stuff.

Some older tractors were on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A large 24 row planter pulled by an equally large tractor which contrasts with older equipment also on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What caught my eye walking about this particular day was remnants of a recent spring snow and the ever remaining low temperatures that made winter reluctant to cede to the coming spring.

A pile of snow from a late snow storm is still melting during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular day I arrived early in the day as I had an appointment elsewhere and saw a large number of elementary students roaming campus, looking at a variety of exhibits, maybe sparking an interest in some form of agriculture or related field as they grow and sharing a love of a land that encompasses Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children check out goats during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A young boy shows off a pet goat during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Chiuldren “play” on older farm equipment on display during Ag Day at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, April 27. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

No sunny skies in Siouxland as spring showers continue, Woodbury County

14 May

This particular spring in Siouxland has seen a continuation of rainy days. While not unusual in itself, but it follows what seems a long feeling of winter into spring with snow showers and cold temps into April. So sunny skies such as these are not that common yet.

Older barns with newer accommodations in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 27, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Traveling a gravel road in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 27, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I am sure there are many of those days that will grace the Siouxland region in the weeks to come, but photographically speaking, it’s a bit of dreary weather. But sometimes one must be patient for that sunshine to appear and nurse those flower seedlings and grass to green up the hillsides and provide a bit of color. And when it does appear, all of this waiting will be forgotten.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Early fall days in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 27, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s History Tucked Away, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

2 May

When going to various Siouxland festivals and community celebrations, no matter how tenuous the term community might be, sometimes there is just too much to take in and share at one time. Part of the reason I like revisiting places I have been to previously. The Grand Meadow Heritage Center is one such place. Its old school is now a museum of sorts with a lot of material relating to previous centuries. Being located in the country, a lot of that history centers around agriculture.

Unique farming equipment can be seen in the basement of the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A visitor walks through the basement of the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921that contains an assortment of historical farming equipment collected over the years seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there is information about people who previously lived in the area and attended the school that still stands.

Visitors to the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival look through old newspaper clippings and school yearbooks in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 192, located near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A collection of historical farming photographs on display in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As an older school building that probably housed grade school and the high school, it also contained a gymnasium and stage. Lots of space to store and display items that relate to what occurred in the past and a source of information for those of us today looking to understand a bit more about how people lived, worked and survived in an era that didn’t have many of the new technological advances that today’s world seems to offer. Well, maybe not technologically advanced to the modern way of thinking. But then it was probably ground breaking.

A rug loom possibly from the 19th century in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of a rail road track and other historical items on display in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People just lived a simpler life and made do with less stuff. And the few things they had were taken care of and passed on to the next generation. Until that tradition stopped.

A cradle, circa 1875, on display with other period items in the former elementary and high school building at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And early settlers would marvel at our need today to live in houses that are huge in comparison, when in most cases, a large room functioned in many ways.

Visitors look over a replica period log cabin and contents at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A room in the former elementary and high school building that was built in 1921 is set up like a General Store that existed in many small communities in Iowa is see at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Heritage Center is a look into the area’s past, some displays set up for viewing what life was like then, and is educational a nice reminder, if we actually remember to take the time to look, listen and explore.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

From the former elementary and high school building built in 1921 and which houses lots of memorabilia, one can look out over the school grounds during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Passion in Siouxland, Ashton

22 Apr

A couple of years ago or so  I ran across a gentleman in the small Siouxland community of Ashton who was pursuing his love and passion of collecting and restoring older farm tractors. Maybe passion is a strong word to use, but Lloyd Baker, who previously worked for a local tractor dealer for a number of years, had a number of tractors sitting around his garage in the small community waiting for some individual attention.

Lloyd Baker laughs a little as he talks about collecting and refurbishing tractors, especially John Deere tractors, almost his entire life, and keeps an ongoing changing collection in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Lloyd Baker currently has a collection of 52 tractors he is planning on refurburshing sitting around his workplace in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. He works on different tractor models of different brands, but especially likes John Deere tractors. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

He said he enjoys getting the older agricultural workhorses running again and doesn’t discriminate against make or model. I saw him recently participating in a tractor pull at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta. Pulling the sled with ease with his John Deere Tractor.

Lloyd Baker of Ashton, Iowa participates in a tractor pull for “antique” tractors at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always nice to meet people who enjoy a hobby and doesn’t mind spending time trying to get things right. Restoring older tractors can be a challenge to either find existing parts or making them yourself to get the machinery functioning again.

Part of Lloyd Baker’s collection of tractors he plans on refurbishing is an Economy, circa late 1930’s, made by Sears & Roebuck Co. that he acquired. Baker said the tractor was shipped to the buyer and then required assembly, seen at his work place in Ashton, Iowa, March 29, 2015. (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And then to participate in friendly competitions with other collectors and restorers to see whose tractor performs best is just a throw back to those county fair competitions I remember as a child, hearing the grandstand roar as the favorite does well. With winter seemingly finally coming to an end with a recent late snow storm, I hope to drive some more back roads and find other people pursuing their passion or maybe just enjoying their “retirement” in a way that makes them happy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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