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‘Tis the Season in Siouxland, O’Connor House, Homer, NE

30 Nov

With Thanksgiving barely behind us, some local organizations and groups are already in the full swing of celebrating Christmas in Siouxland. But that’s understandable as people are less inclined to attend some celebrations the closer, and sometimes more hectic, it gets to the actual holiday.

The O’Connor House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and each year is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each individual bedroom in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The O’Connor House in Homer, NE hosts two weekends where different groups or organizations each step up and decorate a room in the historical house with a Christmas effect. And the historical home of a first settler is staffed with volunteers to tell visitors about the family and life of the house and on the plains. One volunteer actually grew up in the house as a boy, after the O’Connor’s lived there in the late 1860’s, when his parents rented the place. Duane Harris tells some fascinating tales about the original owner, Cornelius O’Connor and life during the early settler days when the area was shared with the Native Americans who had lived there for generations.

Dakota County Historical County volunteer Duane Harris grew up in the O’Connor House and now tells visitors during a Christmas celebration about some of the home’s history and about the original occupants in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each room of the home is staffed with people relating stories about that particular space, either something about the family, or related to those possibly in one of the many photographs that dot the home.

Visitors are greeted by Dakota County Historical Society volunteers in each room to share a bit of history about the O’Connor House and its first occupants during aChristmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs of one of the O’Connor children on display at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course one important room is the kitchen where there are people baking cookies in a wood-fired stove with great success. Gingerbread cookies never tasted so good. And each room looks so homey one feels inclined to just sit, have some hot cider or chocolate and enjoy the ambiance.

Dakota County Historical Society volunteers busy in the kitchen baking cookies and gingerbread men cookies in a wood fired stove during the Christmas celebration at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each of the bedrooms in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course the one takeaway I enjoyed most was a small sign almost hidden in the pantry near the kitchen. Reassuring people to not feel guilty about the Christmas holiday or enjoying its bounty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sentiment of many holiday patrons is seen on a shelf near the kitchen at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cultural History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

28 Nov

Even living in the Siouxland area there is always something new to learn. Recently I did an assignment for a client that showed the continuing tradition of a traditional Indian corn harvest in Winnebago, NE where the Ho-Chunk tribe of Nebraska reside.

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron La Pointe checks an ear to see if it’s ready for harvest during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ag Business Operator for HoChunk Farms Jason Hulit starts a fire to boil harvested corn during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The tribe is intent on keeping alive the traditions of its culture and sharing those traditions with others as well. And I enjoy history and learning about people, especially since many things I run across these days I do not remember seeing in a history book while in school, or a totally different tale told by those who authored the books. Depending on the author sometimes history is skewed in its telling.

hoChunk Farms manager Aaron LaPointe, center left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center right, shuck ears of corn as a fire begins water to boiling for a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron la Pointe, left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, begin adding corn ears to boiling water as ag business operator Jason Hulit, left, watches the fire so as to keep the heat up during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, back center, remove ears of corn after they boiled a few minutes during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There is a particular process which the harvest goes through and the ears of corn are boiled then the kernels removed by hand, dried and stored until later a community soup is made and served among its residents. It’s a tradition that the Winnebago Tribe is hoping to once again instill in younger members and get more community involvement.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spoons and dishes were used to celan corn kernels from the cobs so the kernels could dry in the sun during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, volunteer Jeremiah Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, secure and wrap of dried Indian corn kernels during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Indian corn kernels dry on netting as volunteer Jeremiah Walker, left, HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, take a moment to relax before cleaning up after a day of traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Celebrating Apple Fest in Siouxland, Woodbine

26 Oct

A good crowd braved a soggy day to attend the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This Siouxland fall has been a bit trying for people. For farmers, some have only started getting their crops out of the field. For others, community celebrations and other events held in the fall have seen cool, wet weather. This was true of Woodbine’s Apple Fest this year.

Enjoying a wet day and checking out the vendors during the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bit of rain all day long was the order for the day at the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I did find it interesting for an apple festival there was only one vendor actually selling the fruit, and a church organization selling carmel covered apples. The festival mostly seemed to revolve around the cars people brought to display. A local sheriff’s deputy explained to me on those festival days in past years with sunshine and better weather, they could have been an additional 250 cars sitting around town for people to enjoy.

Checking out the classic cars downtown during the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

During a soggy day, people tried to keep dry while downtown with the classic car display during the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Street art on display as well as classic cars at the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course it wasn’t only the traditional four wheel vehicles that got judged for competition. Being an agricultural area, it was nice to see some tractors and admirers taking in the scene.

Some people were not just only enjoying classic cars downtown at the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The judges seemed to do their best to work with the wet conditions, although I thought wet paper and a bleeding pen would give them “cover” if someone one and someone else complained about it. “I was sure I had written these numbers, but with the wet paper I must have read it wrong.”

Judges try to keeping from getting wet along with their judging sheets during the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And people did their best to stay dry and enjoy the festivities and walk about the downtown area enjoying themselves on a fall weekend.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trying to keep dry during a soggy day at the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A vendor works at keeping rain out of her display area during a soggy day at the Apple Festival in Woodbine, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Art Walk Downtown, near Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

12 Oct

A sculpted piece of art by Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of communities in Siouxland now have sidewalk adorning their downtown area as does neighboring communities of Siouxland. Sioux Falls is one such place and has had a sculpture walk for a few years. It certainly makes a community come alive with pieces of art sprinkled about. And the community is easily navigated on foot and with space for those who linger to look at the art and those who need to hustle and make their destination.

 

A closeup view and reflection in a sculpted piece by Bruce Stillman in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sculpted piece of art by Peter Vogelaar in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I personally like smaller communities that bustle but one doesn’t feel like you are in a bowling lane like in a larger metropolis and getting jostled about while trying to enjoy the views around you. Some of us are just born tourists and look the part. The downtown area of the community has a nice urban feel and is a nice way to spend a day before going off to see other attractions and just enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Plants dot some area in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sculpted piece of art sits between two buildings sharing a patio walk-in area in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hanging plants add some ambience to downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plant decorated orbs dot some streets in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An Orpheum Theatre redone with a more modern look in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

On a chilly fall day three women are dressed for the weather as they walk in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Labor in Siouxland, Calliope Historical Village, Hawarden

6 Oct

Siouxland is home to a number of a number of historical significance to the region, much like many early settlements in many locations around the country. Calliope Village, according to an official listing at the site of the city of Hawarden where the village is located, came into existence in 1860. “History reports that Sioux County, Iowa was founded January 20, 1860, on the banks of the Big Sioux River on the north edge of what is now Hawarden. Our “founding fathers” were Frederick Hubbell, W.H. Frame, Joseph Bell, and E.L. Stone who founded the settlement of Calliope (Kal’ e ope) for the express purpose of receiving a regulation count salary for organizing a county in Iowa.

In 1869, Calliope consisted of a courthouse, three log homes and about 10 residents. The infant town was driven back to the safety of Sioux City by Indian uprisings. In 1871, the Indians calmed down and the few rugged individuals who were willing to brave the wilderness returned to the settlement to find the original courthouse standing. By 1872 Moses Lewis bought out the remaining initial investors and used the office to issue fraudulent bonds. It wasn’t until 1874 that the settlement of Calliope was actually home to the earliest settlers. Progress came with a hotel, cabins and finally viability was enhanced greatly by the formation of a stage coach line to transport people to and from Sioux City.”

Calliope Historical Village open Labor Day in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

That history and the historical village is all that remains of that early settlement. Fundraising and area residents made the village possible to remind current and future residents of the community’s historical background.

So it’s nice to visit the village on a holiday and see people stroll the grounds and check it out. Or relax and enjoy some music provided by a washtub band whose creation was musician’s Jerry Toft.

People celebrate Labor Day visiting the Calliope Historical Village in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Musician Jerry Toft plays a washtub bass and performs standards for visitors along with his friends at the Calliope Historical Village during Labor Day in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People celebrate Labor Day visiting the Calliope Historical Village and listening to a washtub band in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

I visit the place from time to time. Sometimes with a class I teach and other times during the holidays or when I am passing through the area. The days are always different and so is the light. The village isn’t always open but it’s still nice to stop by and see. Of course the side attractions that come during days like Labor Day are not always present, and are a look back into time itself, and just fun to photograph.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Antique tractors carry a shine while on show at the Calliope Historical Village during Labor Day in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Collectible farm tractors for some, on display at the Calliope Historical Village during Labor Day in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Someone with a bias toward red tractors as a number of
Allis-Chalmers are on display at the Calliope Historical Village during Labor Day in Hawarden, Iowa Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s County Fairs, Clay County, Spencer

30 Sep

Every summer I try to attend a couple county fairs. But haven’t been too successful the last couple of years because of conflicting schedules. This year though I did travel to Spencer to visit the Clay County Fair. It’s a rather large affair, bigger than some closer to my home but still encompassing those quintessential elements that all county fairs incorporate. One is 4-H and FFA where kids exhibit their projects for the year whether it’s agricultural in nature or another kind of project.

Controlled chaos as 4-H members show their sows during a competition at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And people stroll the midway and take in the sights that only fairs offer.

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes a photo of her kids with her phone during the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family enjoys the rides at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One young boy was admiring his freshly painted “ghoulish” face in the reflection of a doorway, not noticing a photographer standing nearby. Another couple was immortalizing their visit to the fair together.

A young boy checks out his newly painted face in a reflection of a doorway at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jayden Helbing, left center, an Bailey Houston, right center, and both of Sioux Rapids, get their caricature drawn by Rex Rubenzer of Wisconsin at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs are where people come for a little down home entertainment. Some may think it a relic of the past but for small communities it’s one of those passing seasonal venues that people look forward to, relaxing (unless you are a 4-H parent), the chance to eat “bad” fair food like Funnel Cakes and cotton candy, take in some wholesome entertainment and a chance to forget about day to day activities. And these days, hopefully no politicians stopping by to impress people. A place where sometimes families enjoy reunions.

A family finishing taking a reunion photo catches another photographer taking a picture as well at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So fairs can wear one out walking about and taking in all the exhibits but people still do it and enjoy it and look forward again to next year to repeat the affair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sometimes too much fair time can take a toll on a person as a man catches a nap in the shade at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

National Old Time Music Fest in Siouxland, Le Mars Part 1

10 Sep

Again this year the National Old Time Music Festival stopped by in Le Mars, Iowa for a week of traditional music that covers a lot or area. And of course people from all over attended both as musicians playing and people attending to listen. It’s a joy that such an event takes place in Siouxland and fun to hear the various styles of music performed by a variety of people.

 

The day I attended midweek saw fewer people attending than I remember when I last visited in 2015. But the audience still enjoyed what they saw and the performers who entertained them.

Laurie Miller, left, of Berkeley, CA, Cynthia DeMarco, center, of Boone, and Teressa Franklin of Wood River, NE performing at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Nancy and Allen Jenson of Heron Lake, MN, center left and right, perform and are accompanied by Mike Rysdal, seated left, Sioux City, Cozette Hemen, Alcester, SD, far right, and Terry Durr, Le Mars, seated back right at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors listen to Wee Willie, right, perform with some friends at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I had heard that the entire production of the festival may make a permanent move to Fremont, NE. Bob and Sheila Everhart began the festival a couple of decades ago keeping alive the tradition of playing live old time music.

There were so many performers that I will visit some more of them in the next few days, enjoying hearing live music waft over an open area on a nice summer’s day with some good folk who sat back and enjoyed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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