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Affirming One’s Faith in Siouxland, Pilgrimage of the Cross, Sioux Rapids

8 Sep
Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) before the start of the day’s 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage, Thursday, July 29, 2021 leaving from Sioux Rapids, Iowa. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fr. Doug Klein, center, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) says a prayer with parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Robyn Van Venrooij and Maria Cartelan before beginning their 24-mile walk of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county at St. Josephs’s Church in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. With the newly constructed Christ the King church completed, the 5-day parish pilgrimage began in Mallard and will end in Sioux Center. Fr. Klein gathered various sacrosanct items from each church in the parish, such as the corpus from Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, seen on the cross, to be used at the newly constructed parish church. They will carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The faith landscape of Siouxland as of other places across the U.S. has been changing in the last few years. While many folk continue to say they are believers in Jesus Christ and an afterlife, the attendance to formal institutions has been dwindling, not only for the Catholic faith, but Protestants, Methodists and other established religious orders. All have had their troubles with problematic faith leaders erring in their own lives and causing pain amongst the faithful.

The Diocese of Sioux City (Iowa) has been readjusting its “deployment” of personnel or priests the last number of years as attendance has dwindled along with men willing to heed the call of God and serve as ordained priests. So the diocese has been consolidating its parishes with one community serving as a hub for an area and is closing some of the smaller, less or least attended churches within its area of coverage.

Which then makes it most remarkable that a new church has been built for the Diocese to minister to the faithful in an area that is predominantly Reformed Dutch. With the closing of some of the smaller communities places of worship the priest for Christ the King church, Fr. Doug Klein, put together a pilgrimage that started and passed through a number of the areas now covered by the new church but will lose its own house of worship. Fr. Klein gathered artifacts from the various communities and made the almost 100 mile walk to the new church along with parishioners to show the commitment to faith and the continuing idea of community in one’s faith.

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan leave Sioux Rapids, Iowa to begin their walk of 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is debate about the loss of faith in the U.S. and how godless it has become. But it seems the loss of faith is more directed to those overseeing the flock and some of those individuals loss of direction for personal gain or need of power and the feeling of importance, rather than actually ministering to the needy. And any judgement that might come from any for or against the idea of faith, will ultimately be decided on that one day for what some evangelicals call the “end of days”. And for those who truly believe, the only important judgement comes from the Trinity and not a self-appointed judge among the many now living on earth.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town’s Fame in Siouxland, Sac City

6 Sep
A visitor checks out the world’s largest popcorn ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about Siouxland I always enjoy learning more about the bits and pieces of history in the many small towns in the region. The fame of the world’s largest popcorn ball is something I had been aware of but have never investigated until recently. And it was fun to see this “marvel” before going on to experience a firework fail while learning something new about my camera.

A pictorially recorded history of the making of the world’s largest popcorn ball at the site of the ball in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are probably some who will challenge this small town’s claim to fame but that is the thing about claims and records. Someone is always will to challenge the and outperform those who previously completed that challenge. Which is all good, because it gives folk a reason to explore an area and see what bits and pieces of history are tucked away, forgotten maybe, except for those who remember or live nearby. And such visits make nice memories for family outings and road trips and the change to tell others that “I was there”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The world’s largest popcorn ball created in 2016 and on display in Sac City, Iowa Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One Community’s 155 years of a Continuous celebration in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

9 Aug
Tribal members line up in their regalia as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. 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©)
Women wear different styles of regalia as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Young children learn by doing with their drumming fathers during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska held its 155th Pow Wow celebration recently at its Veterans Memorial Park pow wow grounds. As many tribes around the country do, the pow wow is a community celebration of the tribe’s history and its former (passed away) and current members. Processions, singing and dancing are a large part of the celebration seen by visitors. The other part not often seen or noticed unless one listens to announcer’s comments is the fact that so many various tribal and clan members renew acquaintances and friendships they have with one another at these celebrations.

The Winnebago Tribe’s 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 working out of Fort Omaha. The tribe’s home is land the purchased from the Omaha Tribe nearly 200 years ago after being forced by the “benevolent white man” from their ancestral home that is the state of Wisconsin. The tribe celebrates the safe return of its warriors from battle. Even in the present day many of the tribe’s members have served and are serving in various branches of the U.S. military.

It is a time for them to embrace their culture, share that culture with visitors and teach that culture to their children. And for a couple days, like others who celebrate various holidays, tune out the outside world and enjoy themselves and what the celebration means to them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tribal veteran raises one of the many flag members’ families provide for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Tribal veterans raise the many flag members’ families provide for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Tribal veterans of different U.S. military branches retire the colors for the day during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Tribal veterans of different U.S. military branches retire the colors for the day during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Tribal veterans, many serving in different branches of the U.S. military retire the colors for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A proud father with his daughter at the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A young dances as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Children dance as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Various tribal and clan members dance as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A young girl plays with her father’s beads on a hot day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An older tribal member tries teaching dance steps to a younger member during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sometimes dance lessons don’t always go the way intended as an older tribal member tries teaching dance steps to a younger member during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Children join the circle as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 155th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Screaming in Siouxland, Ice Cream Days, Le Mars

8 Jul
Everyone enjoys ice cream during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As summer arrives so does a little normalcy with events once again occurring in Siouxland, like Ice Cream Days in Le Mars. One of the largest companies in the small community, Wells Dairy is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream. And every year the town celebrates and one generally gets some free ice cream to eat on a hot June day which is a pleasant way to start a weekend.

Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Blue Bunny train winds its way through the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman tosses out candy to children along the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The morning starts with a parade and community residents and surrounding area line the street. Who doesn’t like a parade. It’s a perennial event with other scheduled activities and an arts avenue with a variety of vendors. Like many communities, people are enjoying what summer should be like. But the unknown involving the various virus spinoffs is still just that, unknown. And hopefully for a moment’s joy folk won’t pay a price for “returning to normal” too soon, without precautions. Fall seems like a long ways off, but the longest day of the year has already passed and the days are again shortening. Time is the only constant.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Chidlren scramble for candy in the street during the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Richard Bogenrief plays patriot songs as he walks the parade route during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People crowd the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days Parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living History in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Ft. Calhoun, NE

28 Jun
The canon is fired during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy the chance to see re-enactments of history, even a scaled down version as the state parks of Nebraska was still being cautious because of the pandemic, even though the state’s governor has pretty much declared the pandemic passed.

Because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus visitors during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park still have limited interaction with re-enactors seen in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A small company of men perfect their parade ground routine during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently the Nebraska state parks have again providing programs such as the living history day at Ft. Atkinson in Ft. Calhoun, NE. The people portraying folk from the early frontier period before much of the part of the country became a state helps one understand their lives better and gain an appreciation of what these people experienced and endured at was once the farthest western settlements during that time period.

A military officer re-enactor greets visitors and gives them background information about the fort and its role in history during a hot 92 degree living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two young girls try to stay cool during a 92 degree day during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A young re-enactor portraying an early pioneer daughter of the fort’s shop keep exemplifies what many young people of any century might, boredom, during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Talking to the people at the historical park everyone seems to enjoy what is offered and those who take the time to share their love of history with others and spend some time not in the present and thinking about today’s problems, but what came before, the brave men and women who pursued some kind of dream coming west to a new place, making their way however uninhabitable or unfriendly it might have seemed. Pioneers who wrote their own stories, some of which we may never know.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Military re-enactors each lunch at a camp site during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A tin smith re-enactor talks about his trade to visitors during the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
1st Lt. Gabriel Field served with the 6th U.S. Infantry at Dt. Atkinson when he died in 1823 and was buried at the post’s cemetery. A headstone of Field’s was first discovered by a farmer in 1954 and later in 1956 began a large excavation of the area of which the living history day at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is based on, seen in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is a replica of the actual fort located in Ft Calhoun, NE Saturday, June 4, 2021. Built in 1819 and serving through 1827 this fort contained approximately 1,200 soldiers, almost half of what then was the extent of the standing army for the U.S. During the Lewis and Clark expedition it was noted that this location would be a perfect place to erect a fort. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Memorial Day in Siouxland, Le Mars

12 Jun
DAVE OTT, foreground, and other American Legion Wasmer Post 241 Honor Guard members fire a 21 gun salute as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A member of the Armed Forces salutes during the presentation of the Colors as he and area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of places one can celebrate Memorial Day in Siouxland, remembering those who have and are serving along with loved ones who have passed on to a better place.

I always enjoy the ceremony in Le Mars, where this year another 40 some flags were added to the Avenue of Flags that dot the Plymouth County Courthouse lawn and this year the boulevards across the street. At one point in the program all of the names belonging to those flags that family members have donated are read. This year that number totaled over 1,400 names.

Dennis Britt’s wife, Joyce, and family donated a flag in his honor at the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
ROCKY BUNJES, of Le Mars, IA, and American Legion Wasmer Post 241 member served in the Army during the Vietnam war. Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Dog tags hang from each flag as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not as many people attended this year as I have seen in the past. That is understandable. There is still residual dealings with the ongoing pandemic, while circumstances are getting better, a success over this health issue doesn’t seem to be here yet. But those that did attend found a nice day, with moderate temperature and light breeze that made celebrating a bit more joyous that a rainy, overcast and more somber type of day.

Family members and area residents attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Flags flutter from a breeze as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next yearI will probably visit another community during its remembrance. Sad in a way that so many remembrances are held, but good that people take the time out of a “holiday” to remember those who served their country and embraced a challenge when one arose.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

ISAAC JOHNSON of Le Mars, IA, reads a dog tag looking for the flag of his grandfather Jerry Johnson as he and other area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Heritage in Siouxland, Tulip Festival in Orange City

23 May
Two young parade participants appear tired as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With recent announcements about “life returning to normal” occurring even in Siouxland, the Tulip Festival held annually in Orange City had recently what some are saying is a historic turnout of crowds visiting the festival over its three days of a community celebration.

Thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because of a prior engagement I didn’t get to spend as much time wandering about the festival in the town as much as I might have liked. I will admit I was in a very small minority of people wearing a mask, maybe 5-6 others that I saw along the street during the parade the day I attended. Expecting people to be honest about getting vaccinated and no concern for new variants being discovered overseas and now again in the U.S. doesn’t appear to bother folk much.

A family poses for a photo at a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A family takes photos near a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I, like many, look forward to life pre-pandemic, but sometimes I think actions can be a bit premature and previously when caution was thrown to the wind, like the college spring breakers in Florida a year ago that led to a resurgence of the virus throughout the country, I wonder if the tulip festival and other events in various locales is a giant petri dish. I sincerely hope not, but caution can be a prudent thing.

It was nice to see people enjoying themselves and having fun as the weather becomes increasingly summer-like. I too enjoy getting out and visiting places again, but will hope for the best and remain cautiously optimistic.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two festival participants pose for a photographer as housands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple takes a keepsake photo near a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Parade participants wait for their float to begin moving as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Old County Courthouse, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Apr
Background history of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

No matter where I might travel in Siouxland, history is always a draw for me, and learning a little bit more about a place or the people. Such was the case again in Sioux Falls at the Old County Courthouse Museum where a display of the history of the municipal band was on display.

A photograph of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
“Uniforms” of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit I have never heard this particular band play, even in its current iteration. Many times over the years various “organizations” and groups change. It’s only natural. But I can imagine hearing them play during a summer evening, music wafting out from a bandstand and people relaxed and enjoying a musical treat. It happens every summer in Sioux City when a local group performs 8 Sundays over the summer in a local park.

It is a very nice way to spend an evening, somewhat harkening back to remembrances of a certain era that evokes the play “Our Town“by Thorton Wilder about an imaginary place of innocence during an early Americana period.

Historical displays like this remind people of a snapshot in time about a place and the people. In this case hopefully happy memories to those familiar with the municipal band and a time when their only concern was hearing the music.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A photograph of concert, possibly summer, of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A portrait of an earlier Sioux Falls Municipal Band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Some instruments used for the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, Le Mars Art Center

17 Apr
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to go to a local arts center and enjoy the work of people from the area who share their talent with the community which gives friends and other arts supporters a chance to celebrate them, their talent and to let folk know that art is alive and well locally.

The Le Mars Art Center recently had an opening for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller, both of whom are watercolorists or painters. Both have been “practicing” their talent for decades and presented some very nice work for others to see with an exhibit running to May.

Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With a redesigned look to the gallery area inside the art center it gives artists a space for their work to “breathe” and allow visitors and patrons a chance to stop and enjoy the work on display, as much as any larger city art gallery or museum. Each place does what it can in the area that is located, and the folk in Le Mars work hard to present quality work and display it.

And everyone needs a break once in a while to just enjoy a scene and step away from the “white noise” and enjoy beauty for what it is and what is might mean to them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

NAIA 2021 Women’s Division 2 National Basketball Championship Tournament, Sioux City

22 Mar
A University of St. Francis player sports a floral cross on her arm and waits to toss the ball from out of bounds after a foul was called in game action as Campbellsville plays Lewis-Clark State in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sioux City is hosting the NAIA National Women’s Collegiate Division II basketball tournament for 2021 at a local events arena here in Siouxland. An honor the community and area folk have held for a number of years, working hard for visiting schools, athletes and fans, and family to feel welcomed and enjoy a bit of Midwestern hospitality as teams compete for the top honors. The division is made up of the smaller liberal arts and faith-based colleges and universities, but the athleticism and drive to excel and win is none the less present as these young women play to be crowned this year’s winner.

Thomas More plays Dakota State in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sterling plays Dakota State in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Concordia plays Morningside College in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I previously worked for newspapers I shot a lot of sports, ranging from pee wee stick ball, little league, high school and some college. And on occasion I also photographed some professional football games. When you work as a photographer for a newspaper, you shoot some everything. Sports is not my forte. I always felt more at ease covering spot news and shooting features and portraits. Assisting a friend in covering these games I felt a little trepidation as I had not covered for a number of years, only sporadically photographing various events as was necessitated by freelance work.

Capturing fast-paced action in a tight environment, say under the basket where one might find 4-5 bodies vying for a loose ball, or players stopping someone from driving to the basket or shooting a three pointer to score, has always been a challenge. Stopping the action and framing it well is one thing. Then add in tack sharp focus on moving subjects is another. These hell bent for leather young women are not going to stop and pose for a picture, as they have an agenda to win. And they all play hard.

Campbellsville plays Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Westmont plays Clarke in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
MidAmerica Nazarene plays Clarke in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The first two rounds of action are completed and four teams out of 16 (this year paired down from a 32-field possibility due to COVID-19) are still in play the next couple of days, with the championship game being played this week. It’s been fun being able to photograph such a high level of sports action again and regaining some “sea legs” after so many years of not shooting sports.

All the teams are deserving of being the champion, but that determination is playing out on the court as the teams have good and not so good performances. And then as most fans know if slightly disappointed, there is always next years.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Westmont plays Clarke in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Westmont plays Lyon in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Campbellsville plays Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Concordia plays Morningside College in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Campbellsville plays Lewis-Clark State in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sterling plays Dakota State in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Thomas More plays Dakota State in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Westmont plays Clarke in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Campbellsville plays Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Westmont plays Clarke in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
MidAmerica Nazarene plays Clarke in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Thomas More of Kentucky plays Mount Vernon Nazarene of Ohio in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Southeastern plays Indiana Wesleyan in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, March 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sterling plays Dakota State in first round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Campbellsville plays Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinals round NAIA Div. 2 women’s basketball tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, March 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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