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Enjoying a Literate History in Siouxland, John G Neihardt and Bancroft, NE

18 Oct

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year citizens and literary fans of John G Neihardt get together to celebrate his life at a small museum dedicated to him and his writings. Scholars attend and extol his virtue and foresightedness plus his friendship with another culture at the time of his life, Native Americans living in the area.

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The study that Niehardt wrote in is preserved and one can gaze into it and wonder about this person who didn’t dislike his aboriginal neighbors but rather embraced and learned from them. Writing tomes about his friendship and their beliefs. In today’s crazed society to publish every little nuance and inkling at first blush of thought, this man was more introspective and deliberate in putting his thoughts to paper and sharing those insights. Something which seems a little quaint these days.

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can’t really assume that simple times meant simpler thoughts. It’s just that maybe folk took a little longer to ponder and consider before engaging. Life was hard then as it is now. It may just be hard in a different fashion. But taking time to reflect and think is something that never really goes out of fashion but seems often overlooked in today’s society.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Food, Music and Hot Cars in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

24 Sep

Muscle and vintage cars fill the downtown area during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out looking for another event one weekend I stumbled upon a community’s celebration of food, music and muscle or classic cars, something which has been going on for years but I had no clue.

Vermillion’s Rib, Rod and Rock and Roll Fest started off a little soggy but didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm to enjoy themselves as they strolled the downtown area looking at classic cars and eating. The latter always a favorite past time of mine.

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a rib cooking contest and for a fee people could help judge the various cook’s results and come away with a full tummy. Unfortunately since I had been out looking for an event I came to find out had been cancelled because of rain, I missed that part of the festival. But I feasted on the smell of what must have been a sumptuous chance to give input on smoked ribs.

Tables were at the ready for hungry folk checking out the food vendors and bbq rib making contestants during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Attendees of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People ate, walked about looking over the cars and listening to music then ate some more and repeated steps 2 and 3. And everyone got into the mood, even a cute little guy that put up with his mistress and seemed to take the day in stride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One cutie took in passers-by during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One attendee of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival makes his point about the event in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds still hovered nearby during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People Watching in Siouxland, Clay County Fair, Spencer

20 Sep

Various modes of transportation can be seen during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Almost everyone I know admits at one time or another about the enjoyment of simply people watching. We humans are a fascinating subject and one that has kept psychologists, psychiatrists and other mind probing “experts” in business for a long time with no end in sight. Being a former photographer for newspapers I spent a great deal of time watching people, looking for those moments that visually helped tell a story. Love, joy, pain, emotional distress, I saw various moods during my press days in various settings and circumstances. Now though I just enjoy seeing people out and about and enjoying themselves in the moment.

A couple check out a fairly mobile rocking chair on display during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Friends enjoy the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for moments I find interesting or contradictory in and of themselves if that happens. Guess how I photograph now isn’t so different as before but these days I avoid the emotional distress events such as fires, auto accidents and other life altering accounts that people face and I covered as a photojournalist.

Sometimes minor repairs take place at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Passers-by walk past a welcome sign at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to go someplace like the Clay County Fair and see folk having fun and taking a break from their daily routine. We all need breaks and a chance to unwind and put on hold other accounts or situations that always seem to find a way into our lives.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full house for people attending a comedian early in the day during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Summer’s Festivals in Siouxland, Storm Lake

12 Sep

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small towns in Siouxland always have a way of finding something to celebrate. And doing it in an enjoyable fashion like Storm Lakes, Wood, Wine and Blues Fest it has each summer. In the lake side park there are a number of carved sculptures decorating it. Sadly in recent years vandals have destroyed and tried ruining a few of them. The festival combines some libation, music and wood sculptors with chain saws to perform their craft.

A not yet finished wood sculpture at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A master carver shows his stuff at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These folk are pretty amazing creating works of art out of single pieces of wood. It makes me wonder what the Renaissance artist Michelangelo could have done with some power tools as opposed to his hammer and chisel. I did try some food but no libation as it sometimes limits one’s driving ability, and at the very least makes one sleepy and then wandered and watched as these 21st century artists created their contribution for mankind’s enjoyment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fair History Trip in Siouxland, Plymouth County Fair, Le Mars

6 Sep

The display about the farming milk industry is on display in the Round barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One aspect of county fairs I enjoy is a history component that some fairs offer to visitors through exhibits, celebrating Siouxland’s past and what may still be relevant in this day and age. With the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company located in Le Mars it is not a stretch when an exhibit about dairy farming is presented in the historical Round Barn at the fairgrounds. Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart. It’s a become a 24-hour operation with the larger scale “industrial” type of dairy farms. After all, it’s America, and to continue to thrive bigger is always better and these days necessary.

The Round Barn has been a fixture at the Plymouth County Fair grounds for years in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display about the milk industry and farming on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a dairy farm though I remember my dad milking in the early morning hours and then again early evening. Even with a small herd, it’s a twice-a-day operation 365 days of the year with no days off and seldom any vacations. But farming is that, a calling with a dedication and a willingness to always be on call as needed to get the necessary chores done and enjoy life, while certainly hard at times, had rewards many people seldom experience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display about milking and its role in farming is on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small display about barns is seen inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Pioneer Village has food booths, a blacksmith shop and other places to browse as well as a small outdoor stage where performances occur at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A popular place in the Historical Village at the Plymouth County Fair is the Bakery Shop in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating an Anniversary in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Sep

Chlldren learn about tin smithing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Recently the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Siouxland celebrated its 22nd anniversary of its inception and growth its achieved as a local state park. It hosted activities and tours through its many buildings that reflect area history of early pioneer days and one family’s legacy which became the park.

A threshing bee demonstration as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out various activities like threshing as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Various displays show early 20th century know-how as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

The park is just a nice place to go for a walk either a short one through the historical homestead or a longer one that runs in part along the Missouri River and through a cottonwood forest. The park has made itself a much beloved community member with continuous activities for families and children and hosting events throughout the year. And in three years time the celebration might be a blow out event at 25 years old and still going strong.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scouts try their hand at baking items inside of cast iron pots as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

A homestead cabin at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve which celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Making memories as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

 

Visitors head out on a hay rack ride as Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrates its 22nd year as an official state park, beginning its operation in 1997 and located in North Sioux City, South Dakota Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 . (photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

Poetry and Literature in Siouxland of John G. Neihardt, Bancroft, NE

2 Sep

Poetry is one form of literature I never really embraced and have read sporadically. Even in college where I was probably more exposed to poetry through courses there, it was something that never gave me pause and made me take a second look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something that doesn’t resonate with many of folk and I had forgotten about an early 20th century writer who lived in Siouxland that is renowned for his poetry and early ventures at bridging divides with local Native Americans.

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G. Neihardt Center is located in Bancroft, NE and celebrates the author’s life and life’s work he did through literature and his friendships with local Native Americans. The Center’s website states:”

But Neihardt himself pointed to a “fever dream” he had at this age, in which he saw himself floating through space and felt the presence of a “spirit brother,” as the event that determined his life work as a poet and inspired the content of that work.

Neihardt graduated from Wayne Normal College at 16 and taught country school for a short time. He’d been writing poetry since age 12 and, upon moving to Bancroft in 1900, turned to that vocation, working also as an owner-editor of the Bancroft Blade, and as a clerk for a trader on the Omaha Reservation.

His acquaintance with the Omaha and Winnebago Indians led him to an interest in the Sioux, their customs and traditions. He traveled the plains and lived the land first hand.”

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Neihardt wrote books and poetry reflecting his knowledge of his Native friends and a kindred spirit they shared and time spent together. Impressing early Nebraskan state officials and legislators that Neihardt became the state’s poet laureate at one point, in 1921. As mentioned at a number of online sites for people interested in exploring his life and writings more thoroughly, Neihardt authored the book “Black Elk Speaks,”  interviews he did with the Lakota chief Black Elk in which the chief shared his knowledge of oral history and the cultures of Native Americans.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These little gems of places tucked away in Siouxland still amaze me and I keep hoping to find more of them as I continue to wander about. While I may never truly appreciate the genre of poetry, I can appreciate the dedication Neihardt gave to his life’s works in helping foster a better understanding between two cultures.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a prayer garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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