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Small Town Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Little Sioux

13 Jan
A lit community Christmas Tree in a city park’s gazebo in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas has passed. Celebrations are done. But it was nice while driving around during the holiday season to find small communities celebrating the holiday. Most have Christmas ornaments hanging from light posts in the downtown area. But for some small communities, a long tree, decorated, in a central park allows all who visit a moment to enjoy the shared experience by themselves or with others. Until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Changing Holiday Celebration in Siouxland, Le Mars

22 Nov
Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The City of Le Mars facebook website states: “DonÕt toss your save-the-date just yet! While we were hoping to start a new tradition this year, the COVID-19 pandemic had different plans. We may not be able to gather in person, but weÕre still planning to bring joy this holiday season.” The city still plans a drive-in screening of the movie “Elf” and a video broadcast of originally scheduled main stage events to be viewed online from residents’ homes. Recently Iowa’s governor reversed course about masking and social distancing as coronavirus cases spike in Iowa after attending pre-election Trump campaign rallies while not wearing a mask or encouraging attendees to social distance. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland communities are changing this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many holiday celebrations are being cancelled. Le Mars was going to start a new tradition in addition to its usual Lighted parade that passed through downtown. The Christmas Village celebration hosted at the county fair gounds has been cancelled.

Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A recently announced proclamation for voluntary masking and social/physical distancing by the state’s governor who previously dismissed such precautions seems to be more urgent as illness and deaths related to the virus continues to rise endangering the area hospitals with patients and COVID-19 related symptoms.

Decorations are being put up around the community but planned performances at a downtown cultural center stage and other activities scheduled for the end of the month have been postponed or will be live streamed virtually to keep people from congregating and thus perpetuating the virus transmission among different groups of people wanting to see the town’s lighting of its Christmas tree or hear performances by local groups.

Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year is certainly been a departure with previous years and decades of what have for many become traditions for many families and communities alike. One only hopes that people realize how much these traditions mean to one another and will help to combat this disease by working together and thinking of their extended family members and friends and other community residents until life regains some sense of a former normalcy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations are seen in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving in downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Performance Art Mezmerises in Siouxland, Sioux City

3 Oct

Performance artist Kelsey Karnival works with a couple of hoops as a young girl watches intensely during the Alley Art Festival in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes in life an occurrence happens in a person’s life that may have a profound influence and unbeknownst to them guides them on a path later in life. During a festival in Siouxland recently a young girl stood transfixed as she watches a performance artist dance with a couple of hoola hoops. The young lass stared intensely hardly ever moving her eyes until seeing the dancer so a particular move then looked at her mother to see if she saw.

Performance artist Kelsey Karnival works with a couple of hoops as a young girl looks back at her mother during the Alley Art Festival in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Performance artist Kelsey Karnival works with a couple of hoops as a young girl watches intensely during the Alley Art Festival in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I remember as a young child looking at a particular Sunday edition of a Chicago newspaper, transfixed by a page or two of feature images that appeared every week. I can remember sitting in a room in my parent’s house just looking over the images. I can’t remember why I was fascinated or how that fascination came about. But sometimes these unexplained occurrences manifests the results later in life, a necessary spark to start one down a particular road.

I have spent a lifetime photographing events and people for a variety of newspapers I previously worked for, and continue while finding images for this blog. The intensity of sole purpose of the young girl standing so still, watching the street performer makes me speculate that somewhere and sometime in the future seeing this person perform gracefully and appearing to enjoy her work might influence this young lass to pursue her dreams and find a way to fulfill a desire to create, no matter the art form or platform through which she gives voice to a future talent.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Performance artist Kelsey Karnival works with a couple of hoops as a young girl watches intensely during the Alley Art Festival in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a National Show in Siouxland, the 153rd American Watercolor Society, Le Mars

22 Jun

Viewing the American Watercolor Society’s 153rd annual travel exhibit at the Le Mars Art Center in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s not often that a small town can boast about exhibiting world class works or get the chance to share such work with its community, especially in Siouxland. But the Le Mars Arts Center is currently hosting the 153rd traveling edition of the American Watercolor Society exhibition. Originally scheduled to first be shown in New York City, the show was done virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns in many cities across the country. The show will run through July 31 at the Arts Center.

Viewing the American Watercolor Society’s 153rd annual travel exhibit at the Le Mars Art Center in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A member of the Le Mars Art Center talks with people visiting and viewing the American Watercolor Society’s 153rd annual travel exhibit in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Art Center has also recently finished a redesign within its space that provides more room to exhibit art work and gives the interior a more polished feel. Volunteers at the art center were also appropriately attired wearing face masks as they greeted visitors and had extra masks on hand if someone requested one.

Viewing the American Watercolor Society’s 153rd annual travel exhibit at the Le Mars Art Center in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some of the artists included are: Suzanne Accetta of Columbus, OH, Ingrid Albrecht of Chicago, IL, Deena Altman of Escondido, CA, Mina Angelos of Plattsburgh, NY, Karen Barnes of Rome, NY. Will Bullas of Carmel Valley, CA, Chung-wei Chien of New Taipei City, Taiwan, Jansen Chow of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia and Junwei Dai of Singaore, Singapore.

Even if one is not exactly a fan of watercolor or art in general, in terms of such an event taking place in the Ice Cream Capital, it is amazing to see the work and the variety of the 40 artists who were selected. And it’s nice that sometimes the little guy does okay for the home team.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors viewing the American Watercolor Society’s 153rd annual travel exhibit at the Le Mars Art Center in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Missing Celebrations in Siouxland, Orange City Tulip Festival

4 Jun

Cellphones are out recording their favorite dancers during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year the sounds of wooden shoes on pavement was quiet in Siouxland as the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the nation. The three-day event generally draws anywhere from 80,000-100,000 visitors the small “Dutch” community estimates.

Children perform a Dutch dance routine during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants in the Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival, get buckets of water to prepare for the street cleaning, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The festival is an economic boost to the community as well as a chance to show itself off to visitors and something most residents participate in. Many former residents return to visit family and friends and “relive” their own former participation of the festival.

Young boys “empty” their buckets during the Street Scrubbing at the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mom juggles taking photos of tulips while holding her child. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year. Over a 3-day period the community of roughly 6,200 residents sees anywhere from 80,000-100,000 visitors attend a celebration of the community’s Dutch heritage. The cancellation economically impacts the small community. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So this year halfway through the usual festival routine, a few people make their way around tulip beds in the city park to enjoy a bountiful display of the many colored flowers and each hoping that normal returns safely and sooner than later.

A father takes a photo of his son in a Dutch costume in front of a patch of tulips. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An employee of the Woudstra Meat Market poses in her Dutch costume in front of her store. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year, seen Friday, May 15, 2020. The cancellation economically impacts the small community. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many communities, Orange City residents will take the cancellation in stride. Some thinking too much was made about the pandemic while others believe it was a smart course of action. With a virus, the unknowns take on a large factor, especially when close to 100,000 “strangers” visit your community was various parts of the country and the world. And one can only hope that next year will bring the return of many community celebrations here and other communities as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People check out a working windmill in Windmill Park. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother and her sons pose for photographs. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A young boys seriously checks out a patch of tulips. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Learning History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

11 Feb

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t think I will ever tire of learning about history. And more importantly history that occurs here in Siouxland. Sometimes it does take a little effort to seek it out and spend some time learning, but I always think in the end it’s time well spent.

The clan sculpture garden in Winnebago, NE gives a visitor a glimpse of the Winnebago Tribe what originates and still resides in Wisconsin but because of abuse at the ends of the federal government “liberating” lands for the movement of white settlers, part of the tribe was relocated to Nebraska.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sculpture garden has one piece for each clan and plaques that explain what is represented and representative of each.

in Winnebago, Nebraska Friday June 22, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is a bit of a hidden gem but worth the time to stop and learn and appreciate. History never lies, it’s just how its told by individuals that spin it to put forth their own “truth” or shades there of about it. Other agendas by people who generally do not want the truth known, or prefer to skirt because of interests that belie what is real and what becomes myth.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in Winnebago, Nebraska Friday June 22, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Light in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

22 Jan

Photography is always dependent on light. How much, its color and quality depends on the photographer. Understanding what one wants and what is needed is a choice. I like light. A lot of it or little of it. Depending on the subject matter and the situation in which I am photographing. Traveling around Siouxland I do a lot of photography in natural or available light. But sometimes when photographing I plan ahead and see the need to include additional or supplemental light. I don’t always carry a flash, but it does come in handy.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on how one wants to portray a subject within an image supplemental light can enhance the subject. Helping define it even more. And therein lies the choice. How much light.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes believe that old adage that less is more. Direct flash adds light to a subject, but can also take away the impact one might be trying to create. It also makes the subject look flat. Photographing sunsets with a subject can be enhanced by adding light. So instead of a silhouette, one creates an image that maybe has a bit more drama or interest.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Much like the artist who created and sculpted the clan members in the Statue Garden in Winnebago, NE, light can be used to sculpt the the statues thereby giving them more of a dimensional shape. It also allows the sunset to create more an intense color palette for the background that will hopefully enhance the image rather than take away from it. Previously when I worked for daily newspapers I used flash a lot more than I do now. A lot of times its use was adding fill light to subjects so they could be clearly seen. But my preference was always for using the light to create an image that I liked and that would enhance the subject, living or not, and make it more memorable for the reader and viewer of an article thereby hoping for a lasting impression so the reader and viewer would both enjoy and remember the story that the photograph accompanied.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Strolling Through the Lights in Siouxland, Pioneer Village in Le Mars

4 Jan

I always enjoy strolling through the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County fairgrounds during the Christmas holidays. It looks so much different than when seen during the county fair in the summer. Christmas lights and families walking about, even on cold or chilly nights looking at Christmas displays and visiting Santa before the big day.

Christmas lights light up Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas lights light up Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Near the village is a round barn that is set up to display Christmas scenes and gives the chance for children of all ages to enjoy a remembrance from childhood or to make memories that will will carry into adulthood. Even when it is cold it’s hard not to linger and enjoy.

The entrance to the round barn near the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas villages on display at the Pioneer Village on the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Santa finds his way in the dark in a display at the round barn at the Pioneer Village on the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Near the village is another building with donated decorated Christmas trees where people can enjoy someone’s handiwork in creating such a delight which one can put in a silent auction bid while music plays in the background and local 4-H clubs pass out cookies and hot chocolate or coffee. Sugar rushes are always a nice side benefit to enjoying someone’s decorating attempts and the chance to savor the Christmas holiday for another day or so until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas trees on display near the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas trees on display the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Enjoying the Lights of the Season in Siouxland, Le Mars

27 Dec

Santa is watching who is naughty or nice before the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Even though they happen every year, I still enjoy the local Lighted Parades that take place locally in Siouxland, like in Le Mars. Same floats most times, but the joy on children’s faces and their parents seeing their kids get excited is always fun to see. And when the weather cooperates and it’s not below freezing, that’s even better.

An ice cream float by a local ice cream company seen in the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Helpers pass out candy during the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I can remember as a child it seemed Christmas Eve and Day would never arrive. Years away, even though it was only weeks after Thanksgiving. As adulthood looms it seems the time grows shorter to finish that holiday shopping. Now it is just fun to watch others scurrying to finish their pre-Christmas chores and lists and just enjoy the moments that come with the holiday spirit.

The Big Guy is carried in a horse drawn wagon in the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But even on good weather like days, there can be a delay in festivities, especially when the railroad tracks pass through town and intersect a parade route. There’s no stopping commerce as people patiently wait.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train passes through the downtown area halting the parade’s progress during the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Enjoying Christmas time in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

23 Dec

People line the streets for the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

A man and a woman roasts marshmallows to make Smores in the downtown area before the start of the Lighted Parade and Christmas tree lighting in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I like spending time in small communities during holidays. For the most part, people are generally more friendly, and even more so during holidays. Yankton, SD like a lot of Siouxland communities has a Christmas celebration and a Lighted Parade when the town hosts night outs supported by local businesses and residents.

A helper passes out candy to children during the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Two young elves watch a float with Frosty the Snowman go by during the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Many communities have cut back on some expenses for these celebrations but Yankton seems to be growing its offerings to its residents and visitors. I have many times enjoyed the Meridian Bridge, now a pedestrian crossing over the Missouri River during other times of the year. It gives one nice views and a little exercise to boot. But on this night it was a place to add a little extra piece of the celebration.

Pathway lights change colors during the Christmas holiday at the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

People walk through a lit archway near the Meridian Bridge as they head for the Christmas tree lighting in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Carolers sing prior to the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

People gathered at the foot of the bridge where Santa greeted and listened to children as a local choir sang carols while all waited for the finale of lighting the city’s Christmas tree and fireworks launched form the bridge. Afterwards people hustled back to where they could find a little warmth, some humming just sung carols and others happy with treats passed out along with hot chocolate and cider while waiting for the tree lighting. A little Christmas cheer as the day inches forward and people can again turn their attention to completing their gift shopping and getting ready for that night of St. Nick stopping by before attending church and spending a little time for the Reason for the Season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

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