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Celebrating the 4th of July in Siouxland, Logan

10 Jul

This 4th of July I visited the community of Logan, Iowa.

This year the residents will be celebrating the 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial of their community which was incorporated in July of 1867. For a small town a number of people arrived early for spots along the parade route. I have photographed a number of July 4 parades having worked for various newspapers for over 25 years. I have always been struck by the fact that a number of people feel compelled to “dress up” to celebrate the 4th of July.

I always found it curious. Americans turn out for parades, in small towns or large. We are proud of our heritage and the sacrifices made to achieve the success of the nation we live in.

The Stars and Stripes leads the 4th of July parade during the celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I attended college in the 1970’s, and the Vietnam War or Police Action was winding down but still emotions were running high concerning America’s involvement and depending on which side of the fence one was seated on, viewpoints differed about what occurred. A particular story I remember hearing is that people were upset with others literally wrapping themselves in the flag, sitting on it, burning it and other acts many felt were seditious. People were serious about respecting the flag and giving it its due honor. Fly it high and proudly. That was it.

Now however, it’s okay for the patriotic consumerism. Olympic athletes wrap themselves in the flag, people sit on it if it happens to be a piece of clothing. It seems it is as patriotic to make a buck from the symbol of the American flag as it is to just run it up a flag pole and enjoy it there.

Young parade goers dressed in patriotic outfits at the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple prepare to leave after the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A woman in patriotic dress watches chilldren collect candy during the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is not for me to judge others about anything. Some may even misconstrue my stated observations here. It just seems that people are more comfortable about wearing their patriotism on their sleeve as it were than just celebrating its significance in a more revered manner. One finds flags large and small displayed in a variety of places which doesn’t necessarily disparage their reverence for our nation’s symbol.

Maybe this is the 21st century way of honoring our nation, but maybe I am old school and not quite so convinced that simply flying the flag high and paying it that respect is enough.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wet Tulip Festival Celebration, Orange City

8 Jun

Of the number of years I have now lived in the Siouxland area I can not recall a more rainy day for the Tulip Festival in Orange City. Although I am certain others will easily recall that. One gentleman I talked with this year while attending the festival told me he remembers as a child playing an instrument in the marching band wearing his wooden shoes and trudging through a late snow. Mother Nature can be a bit capricious sometimes.

This time it drizzled and rained almost all of the time. Not heavy, but steady. And with expected storms to roll into the area in the late afternoon and evening, the normally two parade times were combined into one. I stayed around for most of it, but not all. Having never been to the parade in rainy weather I was a bit gamed to see what images I could come away with. The majority of them contained umbrellas. The darker than normal overcast skies helped create a mood but visitors seemed undaunted by the weather.

Sometimes people’s true feelings can show as this couple always enjoyed the festival but not the weather during the Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 20, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The use of so many umbrellas gave me some natural framing devices, as well as the “shade” of the trees focusing a viewer’s eyes on what I want them to see in my images.

Umbrellas could be found everywhere during a wet Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 20, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lastly, I enjoyed being able to some extent single out some of the young dancers of which the girls seemed thrilled to perform and the boys reluctant participants. But the food I had tasted the same, and with so many umbrellas people offered a space while I shot in different locations.A sunny day would not have given me the same results and I didn’t mind a little drizzle and certainly didn’t mind the cooler weather.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Faces in Siouxland, Tulip Festival, Orange City

23 May

As many times as I return to the Tulip Festival in Orange City I am always seeing new and more faces. The entire community is involved in a effort to keep the town’s Dutch Heritage alive  and join in the celebration whether dancing traditional folk pieces, performing in various productions or parading through the streets. One always gets a Midwest welcome from smiling faces and people who genuinely seem to enjoy their 3-day holiday.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And most of the time entire families are involved in the celebration. I have met and chatted with people that are now adults who remember their childhood participating in children’s activities associated with the parade. And the adults’s parents recall their participation. And now it’s the adult’s children who participate while the adults have moved on to adult enterprises associated with the festival.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The costumes worn by the residents representing various cultures within the Dutch heritage whether fisherman, cheese makers, farmers, it gives the visitor a glimpse into the past and a little bit of knowledge of where the ancestors of these people hail from. Plus, the food is not bad. And sweets. Did I mention coffee? It’s just a nice day to enjoy a celebration.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Celebrating Dutch History in Siouxland, Orange City

19 May

This weekend is the annual Tulip Festival in Siouxland in Orange City. The small community celebrates its Dutch heritage with locals dressing in costume and performing traditional dancing, street cleaning and a parade of all things Dutch. It’s a three-day celebration. And it’s always fun, even if the weather doesn’t always cooperate. This year it is wet and cool, well maybe cold. Temperatures for some days are expected to be in the low 50’s. Chilly if you can’t wear a coat over your costume. However, for a photographer it gives one the chance to shoot a little differently.

Flowers are part of the parade of costumes exploring traditional Dutch dress of various regions at the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have been photographing the event for a few years now. And so with a little change in weather it gives me an opportunity to photograph the event a little differently.The overcast sky makes it easier to shoot without harsh shadows and colors seem to pop a bit more, although the tulips seem to be suffering a little with such a cold, wet spring.

A cold wet spring has left blooming tulips a little less spectacular than previous years although a good resting spot for a fly at the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are so many different facets of the festival that sometimes the choices can kind of keep a person from shooting at all, or not paying enough attention as you flit from scene to scene trying to capture it all.

Town youngsters perform one of several Dutch dances during the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And this year I spent some time chatting and having coffee inside with a former colleague out of the cool weather which means I need to go back one more day since I missed the parade. But what a nice way to spend a day. Seeing people enjoy themselves despite the inclement weather, and if it’s too cold or wet, there’s always another cup of coffee inside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Anthon

7 Jan

While driving about I enjoy visiting smaller communities during the holidays. Many places “deck” themselves out to some extent as much or sometimes more than larger communities. Anthon, Iowa is one such place. A community of not quite 600 people, it dresses itself up which makes the season all the merrier.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas near Siouxland, Plattsmouth, NE

9 Dec

 

A lot of Christmas festivities are beginning. Small communities and organizations seem to celebrate the season early, but am guessing they are trying to avoid bad weather and no one showing up, because of bad weather. I have never been to Plattsmouth, NE previous to this year and upon an earlier visit, saw an advertisement about a Christmas on Main, a Victorian celebration of the season with some people dressing the part. This celebration also happens to fall on Small Business Saturday so it’s a nice event with many of the area downtown stores open later than what seems “normal” and giving a push to people to begin to get happy with the Christmas season fast approaching. In one store, a woman in period dress greeted visitors with a chalk board reminder behind her.

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many stores offered hot chocolate and cider along with too numerous cookies to taste or describe. There was also a petting zoo, Christmas lights everywhere, a street band and carolers and then the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree with more carolers and a number of others joining in. The event was a nice throw back to years past, which may not be true for the community of Plattsmouth, but for me it is a reminder of why small towns have their own charm.

It makes for a nice start of the Christmas holiday season to see so many people getting “into the spirit” and enjoying themselves for one night and being a community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Sioux City

27 Nov

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland have begun. Small communities and bigger ones are heralding in the Christmas holiday with lighted parades and other seasonal celebrations. As someone mentioned to me recently, to get their celebrations done before the snow flies. Sioux City held its Lighted Parade recently. It was interesting in that, one moment I had gone inside a building to look at decorated Christmas trees that are part of the yearly celebration along with being a fundraiser, and when I came out, the street was populated with people who were not there minutes earlier. Children of course scrambled for tossed candy, a staple of any parade and the parade snaked along an outlying street near downtown. The weather was warmish and pleasant, and the little bit of rain that fell waited until Santa made his appearance and the tree lit before “dampening” everyone’s enthusiasm.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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