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Celebrating Christmas displays history, Santa’s Castle, Storm Lake

15 Dec
Santa waits patiently for a young girl to stop crying and talk with him at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enter Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, as it opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When it’s Christmas time in Siouxland, a favorite place to visit is Santa’s Castle in Storm Lake. It had been a few years since I was last there and always enjoy it because it’s the kind of place that celebrates the kids in all of us. There are so many various types of animatronics on display collected in the last few decades that are still functioning and brings smiles to all who pass through.

This year the Castle was reorganized and displays apparently were grouped by decades of when they first appeared and people come in the front door and then snake around the area until at last they meet the. Big Guy himself, and kids get to ask their favor of Santa.

Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large contingent of parents and grandparents with children in tow meander through looking for answers to a handout fact sheet they receive when entering. The various displays are mesmerizing and one could stand more minutes at a time to watch the animation unfolding in front of them. Sadder still, maybe, in that some of these animations I recognized seeing as a child myself. Which I hope I still am in spirit if not in flesh.

A family tries to engage a young boy for a photographer as Santa also tries to coach the boy’s attention Santa at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa and a young boy try to coach the boy’s sister to talk with Santa at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking through Santa’s Castle is a bit of a sensory overload but in a nice way. In the building’s basement is a large scale model train setup that still captivates and holds everyone’s attention, possibly letting them relive those former childhood memories. Memories one may hope that more folk can enjoy in a positive way and find a continuing of the Christmas spirit through the next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children and those young at heart watch a train display as Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle Board president Ron Hott, left, talks with electrician Ray Delp, right, about some glitches Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 as Santa’s Castle opens for the holiday season running through Dec. 26 in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley Art on Display in Siouxland, Sioux City

23 Nov

Water fills an alley during a rain storm as people check out the alley art still on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes plans to attend an event in Siouxland doesn’t always go as planned as I missed this year’s alley art festival held in downtown Sioux City. A variety of folk decorate and the walls of alleys in the downtown with fanciful and other artistic endeavors which adds a bit to the normally drab scene in the alleys.

Water pours from a down spout during a rain storm in front of alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An alley is back to normal but the alley art remains after an art festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many communities the alleys are generally the living rooms and bedrooms for people choosing a homeless lifestyle. The folk find an area that apparently suits them and reside there. I am not certain how it is arranged to allow the artists and others who want to demonstrate their artistic skill to do so on alley walls without possible interference from the “local residents”. In the last few years, the demeanor in and around the alleys in the downtown area seem to take on a different tenor. I used to take photography students shooting at night to teach them skills in choosing white balance and using higher ISO settings and other technical camera stuff along with remembering to make a nice composition. A few years ago I stopped that and chose another smaller community whose alleys were also decorated but were also safer in my opinion than the Sioux City alleys.

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An homage to the performing arts shown through alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The use of wall space and those willing to give their time to beautify an area is ultimately nice. I would imagine the folk that hang out in the alleys the most enjoy the change in scenery. Banksy or Picasso’s adorning their “living quarters” created by some very talented people. And with winter coming into view, it might be interesting to go back and take a look at the art and the surroundings to see how the winter season looks in juxtaposition to the various displays.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reminiscing About History in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Festival, Washta

14 Oct

A man pauses at a window while visiting the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating to learn about the history of a place and the people when visiting small town festivals or museums. And I have visited the annual heritage festival a few times over the years. Many local and not local folk visit and reminisce about attending school, now museum, which houses many artifacts from previous decades and even a century or two.

A former school now a museum of history at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children visiting with parents and grandparents seem especially taken with technology they have never seen or heard of let alone used. And probably after a half day’s use might be very thankful for today’s version. And while it may be eavesdropping, hearing people talk about life in the old days is fascinating and telling, as most never say they went without when they didn’t know what they didn’t have to begin with. Although, most would agree, with all sorts of improved technology, the most favored seems to be the invention of air conditioning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scene from a history book that some folk still remember and seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early century technology on display at the museum seen during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The annual Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pioneer wagons on display at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Inspiring Art in Siouxland, Art Splash, Sioux City

28 Sep

Artist Maria Loh creates an image on the sidewalk at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Artist Maria Loh creates an image on the sidewalk at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Annually in Siouxland a local Art Center in Sioux City holds an “Art Splash” where juried artists can exhibit their wares or creations along with music and activities for children. Artistic endeavors by various artists range from paintings and photography, jewelry, ceramics, wood carving, textiles and fabrics and more.

Jonathan Metzger and his wife, Allison, work collaboratively to create art at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jeremy Hansen poses on a sunny day in front of one of his art pieces at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Todd does some finish work for his paramour Kiara Linda at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun and educational walking about the many artists, seeing the work they have done and feeling inspired and sometimes lazy as one sees the amount of art and effort that goes into some of the items created, whether two or three dimensional. If tired from walking about one can always grab a bit to eat and listen to whatever entertainment is happening at the time. The 2-day event gives one a chance to explore and for many an opportunity to add to their own individual collections be it for indoor or outdoor settings.

Art inspires as do the artists who create it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sidewalk art created by locals at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People fill a blocked off downtown street to look at various artists’ booths during Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People fill a blocked off downtown street to look at various artists’ booths during Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children create art on the sidewalk at Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People fill a blocked off downtown street to look at various artists’ booths during Art Slash, a project of the Sioux City Art Center Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Labor Day in Siouxland, Hawarden

26 Sep

An Iowa Army National Guard Honor Flag unit lead as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Labor Day in Siouxland and the rest of the U.S. is the holiday that basically says summer is over and fall is beginning with everything else to follow. It’s the time to celebrate the working men and women that make an economy thrive. Most small towns celebrate Labor Day in one way or another. Hawarden does so each year with a parade.

A grain elevator anchors one end of down town as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The West Sioux High School football team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the West Sioux High School cheer team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small town community celebrates its small town atmosphere. A number of floats contain local town folk, young and older. And the streets are lined from downtown out to a city park with food booths and other entertainment. Probably mild by larger city standards, the parade is enjoyed by the community residents and a chance to relax before life becomes more hectic as schools once again are up and running after the summer break and farmers anticipate their fall crop harvest normally started in October and November, depending on the crop growing season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux County Youth Fair royalty, princess KAIE PLENDL, left, queen OLIVIA FEDDERS, center and Little Miss Sioux County BREA LEUSINK, ride a float as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always a favorite as small town parades the Abu Bekr Shrine Rat Patrol perform precision driving along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young boys points out the large tractor and grain wagon as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Mariachi band performs along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Graduating class members of 1972 from West Sioux High School participate in the parade as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Meeting a Local in Siouxland, up close and personal, Winnebago, NE

22 Sep

A young dancer greets a photographer as other dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographing in and around Siouxland for a couple of decades now I am always pleasantly surprised with some encounters I have with local residents. During a visit to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s 156th Homecoming Celebration a young boy saw me photographing near the circle where the dancers were and unabashedly came up to take a closer look. During my newspaper days I have had such encounters with folk, sometimes very unfriendly folk, and my response has always been the same. Just keep photographing because one never knows how things will turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young dancer greets a local photographer during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young dancer greets a photographer as other dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hobnobbing with Fellow Wizards (photographers) from around Siouxland, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

20 Sep

A water pool and art installation seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Instructors and photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As much as I like to get out and travel to various points in and around Siouxland, and points outside of the Siouxland region during solo trips, it is also fun to sometimes hang out with fellow photography enthusiasts, chatting and learning from others.

A recent outing in Omaha, NE at the Gene Leahy Mall, brought together a collection of photographers through a photo walkabout sponsored by the Rockbrook Camera photo club. Everyone’s mission was to make an interesting photo within the confines of the mall, which has recently been redone by the city, and those were later shared amongst the participants. A couple of instructors from Rockbrook were on hand to answer questions and guide the group through the 2-hour session.

Photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Omaha in the background during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Contrasting shapes seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The friendly group wandered about checking out various angles and designs provided by surrounding buildings and artwork within the mall area. When a collection of photographers assemble in the same setting I am always amazed at the various subjects of interest and different interpretations achieved by different individuals. When I previously taught a Photo Safari class at a local community college the most fun was seeing all the images at the end of the 6-week session and listening to those in the class amazed at how people saw the same situations and subjects, but created varying images that represented the individuals interpretations.

A scene during the Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerred Zegelis of Rockbrook Camera, one of two instructors for a photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little girl enjoyed a water pool and photo enthusiasts took advantage of her getting wet as her mom watched during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I would always tell students when out shooting with them on the Safari photo trips that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day than making photographs. It’s still true, and the Siouxland and surrounding region still provide much material to explore and share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Omaha is seen in the background during a photo walkabout outing by Rockbrook Camera at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some ducks know a good thing as they are fed in a small lagoon area seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Tradition in Siouxland, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s 156th Annual Homecoming Celebration, Winnebago, NE

10 Sep

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One annual event I look forward to while traipsing around Siouxland is the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Homecoming celebration which has been annually celebrated since the tribe’s Chief Little 7Priest and his warriors returned home from serving with the U.S. Calvary in the 1860’s. Since that time many of the tribe’s members have served and continue serving in the U.S. military. And the homecoming celebration honors those veterans current and past.

It is also a time when tribal members and other tribes can “show off” their regalia and dancing skills as many contest are held throughout the 4-day event which is a chance for non native individuals to meet and learn about their Native neighbors. And where members of the various tribes pass on their traditions to their younger children and relations always remembering the reason why they celebrate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The pow wow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Heritage in Siouxland, Honoring Veterans, Winnebago, NE

25 Aug

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year for the last 156 years the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has held a “Homecoming Celebration” that other folk know as a powwow that takes place in Siouxland. I have attended the homecoming over the years and besides the pageantry that does take place with various tribal members displaying their regalia while dancing for competitions or enjoying what is an intertribal dance, the main purpose of the homecoming is honoring the veterans of the tribe and veterans in general who have served the U.S. which began when Chief Little Priest and his warriors of of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. Each day of the celebration flags are raised at dawn and the colors retired before sunset.

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After an afternoon of dancing and displaying of regalia by the various tribes who attend and participate, the colors are retired, and for both posting and removing, all veterans are asked to attend and help out with respect for those who have served and fought in wars since the 1800’s to the present day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A veteran salutes as the Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gustave Smith, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska served as a tank operator under the command of General George S. Patton during WWII and was honored this year during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Departed in Siouxland, Hancock Township Cemetery, rural Plymouth County

21 Aug

A headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue to drive about Siouxland I continue to find locations with older cemeteries, many with grave sites of those departed who probably first settled the area, or arrived shortly thereafter. Many of these resting places also have “current” residents recently departed in the last few years.

A former family burial plot with missing headstones at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two guests check out a headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A caretaker I met while visiting told me that upon his last visit it seems that some headstones are missing from certain graves which is sad. He speculated that maybe a visiting relative took them with them but it leaves the grave(s) unmarked and visitors without knowing who may laying this peaceful conclave of residents. I always find that even if I do not know any of the occupants of the cemetery, I have no less respect for those who have gone before and seen this area and countryside when it was first settled by white settlers. I imagine that many a Native American had passed through living their lives as hunter/gatherers and may have traveled an extensive area of Siouxland looking for sustenance from their Creator while living off the land.

Cemeteries by their very nature are peaceful places which is one reason I like to visit them. The occupants hold no judgement of those visiting, and I no judgement of those departed. Just a quiet time to think, contemplate and wish there was more peace in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grave stone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A broken head stone at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Newer grave sites at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many early burial sites in rural areas had trees planted around the headstones to shade the departed seen at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the surrounding rural countryside at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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