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Siouxland History in Action, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

8 Apr

I always enjoy visiting small festival in local venues in Siouxland, like the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta. The people who run the festival revel in bringing history to life and sharing the past with current and future generations in the area. Today, some teenagers and youngsters probably have no idea how hard work could be one, to two, centuries ago. Reading about it is not exactly experiencing it.

A man runs a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Men work a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having grown up on a farm in the 1960’s and ’70’s with some automation, one could acquire a few blisters while doing chores and other farm activities. At the festival a crew runs a milling operation, cutting lumber from tree trunks and making boards. The saw being powered in the past by a steam operated tractor. This past year it was operated with a newer tractor and again was belt driven.

Men remove a cut piece of lumbar from a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most pieces of wood handled a few times before finding a resting spot with others, and then one more time transported somewhere else for use. And what I find as interesting and grateful for is that people still know how to operate this “ancient” machinery, a few years past the industrial revolution and the settling of a continent with growing populations and an expanding frontier.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Men take a break from working a belt driven former steam powered wood saw at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two men demontrate using a chainsaw to trim down a tree trunk at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Characters in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Center

25 Mar

When attending some festivals in Siouxland there are sometimes characters performing roles that make attending more interesting. At the Grand Meadow Heritage Center Festival there are some fellows and gals that portray characters out of the “Old West” who are the Western Iowa Border Agents, a western action shooting group that dress in historical clothing and try to authentically reenact scenarios that would have occurred in an earlier century.

Two men dressed in western gear and members of the Western Iowa Border Agents who participate in western action shootouts leave a blacksmith demonstration at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Western Iowa Border Agents western action shootout group relax before putting on their show at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They provide interest in those attending and a contrast with how people are currently dressed, or have dressed since the 20th century began. Then are those who are very genuine and are who they are as individuals. People such as a person being a black smith, portraying the character yet also being an actual individual who does some smithy work in their “real” lives.

A blacksmithy checks out some recent work he did at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And others going about their lives, primarily living an outdoor life most likely associated with agriculture. My dad used to dress like a farmer 98.5% of the time. Clothes he was comfortable working in and in a way defined him as clothes also define others.

A vendor or volunteer giving out slices of watermelon at the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A man sits and watches during the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival near Washta, Iowa Saturday Sept. 9, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It will be interesting to see down the road how Goth’s and hipsters and others are remembered and a shift of how people dress that will occur in the future. Trends change, recycle and change again. For me it’s simply people watching and enjoying seeing real individuals, as well as those who portray another era, reminding us at times where we have been before rejoining the modern day race.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating a Siouxland Christmas at the Pioneer Village, Le Mars

24 Dec

I make an effort every year to attend the Lighted Parade held in Le Mars but sometimes fate just doesn’t allow it to happen. This year I acquired a stomach bug which dampened my enthusiasm and ability to attend. One of the side benefits of attending the parade is to then head over to the Christmas at Pioneer Village located at the Plymouth County Fairground in Le Mars where it is outfitted with lights, kids can visit Santa and there are wagon rides, decorated trees and a Round Barn filled with everything Christmas one can imagine.

People through a decorated Christmas scene at Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Le Mars, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Families take pictures of their children sitting on Santa’s lap at Christmas at Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Le Mars, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

People clambor off and others wait to get on for a wagon ride during the Christmas at Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Le Mars, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

While it is true that Christmas is not everyone’s favorite holiday for various reasons, it’s nice to believe people are thinking about happier occasions in getting together with family or friends and stepping away, if possible, from the daily happenings in life, if only for a short while. The festive lights, various decorations and other accoutrements are a nice diversion. And I personally enjoy them even when ill from some bug.

An assortment of Christmas decorations can be found in the Round Barn during the Christmas at Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Le Mars, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A couple checks out an illuminated Christmas tree in the Round Barn at Christmas at Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Le Mars, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it’s nice to see a community help its residents and area guests celebrate the season and forget some cares for an hour or two and think happier times.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sprucing up for Christmas in Siouxland, Small Towns

22 Dec

I find it fun driving around Siouxland during a holiday season like Christmas and seeing what a community has done to spruce itself up to celebrate. Like in Anthon where a decorated Christmas tree sits in the thoroughfare going through the downtown area.

A Christmas tree sits at the end of downtown and across from City Hall in Anthon, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Different communities do similar and slightly different things for its residents. Almost all communities hang decorations on light poles as others have lights to brighten the overnight.

Holiday decorations light the early evening in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A Christmas ornament on display in Mapleton, Iowa Tuesday Nov. 28, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And while not taking an unscientific poll, I would guess most if not all residents approve of the decorations and may even help to celebrate Christmas like a business in the downtown area of Correctionville.

Holiday Christmas decorations in store windows in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And while the area really hasn’t gotten its first dusting or heavy snowfall yet, one can almost bet that it’s on its way and will just add to the Christmas spirit, until the shovel comes out for a little snow removal.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Akron

16 Dec

No matter the place, large or small, or the person, adult or child, Christmas is just a joyous occasion in Siouxland. And Akron has started its own tradition hosting a third annual Chamber visit by Santa Claus who kicked off the event with a tree lighting and had children anticipating telling him what they wanted this year to find under their own Christmas tree.

Santa and Mrs. Claus light up the Christmas tree during their visit during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Parents take snap shots of their children with Santa and Mrs. Claus while others peek as they wait their turn during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Smaller communities invest their time in celebrating holidays for its residents. Santa arrived in style in a fire truck. The library hosted a Santa and Mrs. Claus greet and meet with the children and downtown businesses opened their doors and served treats and hot chocolate. The downtown area was dressed to the nines.

Downtown Akron decorated in a festive holiday mood for the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Lights and decorations make downtown Akron a festive place during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Even if only for a couple of hours, cares and worries are replaced with celebration and anticipation. One joyful fulfillment so far for me is that I can attend these events without driving through any snow, yet. But it’s coming. Maybe Christmas Eve, or possibly sooner, but a Siouxland Christmas doesn’t generally go by without some cold and snow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Singing Christmas Carols in Siouxland, Nora SD

8 Dec

Around Thanksgiving I attended a Christmas carol sing-a-long in a small community in South Dakota in Siouxland. In Nora, SD music enthusiast and Christmas lover Mike Pederson invites people to come to a former general store and share in the spirit of Christmas.

Mike performs on a pipe organ in the store which he has been doing for 28 years, and is accompanied by a violinist and the voices of people who travel near and far to join in song and celebration of Christmas. The last sing-a-longs will be occurring soon and a real treat, it’s worth a drive.

Mike Pederson plays a pipe organ that sits in the store during the Christmas sing-a-long at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Nora General Store in Nora, SD, sits along a state highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic, which occurred in 2007. A Christmas sing-a-long has taken place for 28 years at the Nora store, Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It is fun to meet people and sing with them, even if your voice sounds better in your head than in real life, like my own. Christmas is a season for rejoicing and sharing and the comradery with happy faces and voices is amazing. Mike would love to have you stop by and join in the fun. However, get there very early, otherwise you might find yourself listening in through the open front doors on a pleasant day, and through the doors on a day with temps in the teens and snow on the ground.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

With the seating and standing room full inside the store, others stand around the front door for the Christmas sing-a-long to sing carols at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Festival of Trees in Siouxland, Cherokee

2 Dec

Sometimes revisiting places in Siouxland leads one to pleasant little surprises. One such visit to Cherokee recently I dropped by the Sanford Museum and Planetarium and came upon its Festival of Trees.

A house from across the street is reflected in the windows of the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Small Christmas trees decorated by a variety of groups from the area each giving their own tree a special spin and unique look.

Each of the Festival of Trees entries have unique aspects about them during the exhibit at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Sometimes those decorating exercise their sense of humor as well.

Playing on words for one Festival of Trees entry at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

So it’s fun to visit different communities this time of year to see what is going on, even though the theme of Christmas is the same. Pleasant surprises await the person willing to make the time to visit.

The museum and planetarium provides the community and surrounding area residents a place when there are art shows and history programs. A small display with the history and information about the museums’s benefactor plus a room with some items from a founding community family gives visitors a little background. Just another reason to do a bit of local travel to explore areas in Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A decorated tree in the “Sanford” room at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

History about the Sanford family at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

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