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Celebrating Film in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University

27 Feb

Attendees watch one of the entries in a screening room prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s world, there is a proliferation of media. Video and stills. Everywhere. As a photographer, I somewhat thrive on seeing images and for the most part enjoy them. People’s tastes runs the gamut. Depending on one’s point of view there is “good” and “bad” art, video and photography. Individuals pursue what interests them and where their tastes lie.

Every year in Siouxland at Dordt Universtiy there has been a 48-hour film challenge, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. Individuals and teams come up with and create a film within the specified time period and then compete at this private Christian college in northwest Iowa. The films need to be family friendly but do push the boundary as each, as people are, have an individual opinion of what is friendly. And winners for this year’s competition just recently were announced.

One film crew entry pose on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films are produced by high school, college and post college individuals. All maybe reflecting a generational outlook through their individual films, and most certainly have a point of view and moral component to the pieces. Attending the awards ceremony (which is also live streamed to competing teams from around the country) held at the small university one can feel the excitement for these folk as much as directors, producers and actors attending the Oscars and receiving awards and recognition for their work.

Teammates for a film entry react after winning first place in their division during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Presenters react as they watch one attendee show off his Superman shirt under his street clothes mimicking a recurring theme for this year’s entries which involved superheroes during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Twenty-five teams made the final cut of the competition that were judged and then four films were selected for best of in three categories with a fourth winner judged best of show. It’s fun to watch these folk enthusiasm and see their creativity put to the test, or not. Prior to the awards ceremony the film are screened in rooms around campus for people to view a few of them before finding out the winner. It’s a fun night, except for the cold weather and sometimes snowy conditions, and a chance for people to begin an adventure in film that may continue or compete in a venue their find worthy of their own involvement with similar values. As with everything, you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Dordt University jazz band performs prior to the start of the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of a film crew ham it up on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An audience member dressed up as a bee patiently waits for the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Mark Volkers, left, and Bob Pollema, right, emcee at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 awards ceremony at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Greener Pastures in Siouxland, Rural Buena Vista County

19 Feb

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out driving in Siouxland in nicer weather I never know who I might see off the beaten path. More likely a critter of some sort. And I am glad when driving backroads I am moving slowly enough to be able to brake and then get one or two photographs made before the elusive creatures vanish.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cornfields and woods near corn and soybean fields can be an ideal spot to find nature hanging out and I feel lucky when I can both enjoy and photograph the scene at the same time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Cruising Siouxland, Buena Vista county

7 Feb

Driving in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I think it’s never too early to think about getting out and cruising through Siouxland, looking to see what is just beyond the bend and what new friends one might make while out and about.

A quiet scene in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of seeing vistas, although I am sure the ones in Iowa pale in comparison to those west and east where mountains provide a different kind of view but at least here I know I won’t get a nose bleed from altitude.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A hilltop view in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Grassland and forest in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding the Time and Place in Siouxland, Sioux City

3 Feb

The setting sun creates a colorful sky seen in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. 9photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

A recent two-day warm up has put a smile on a lot of folks’ faces in Siouxland recently. Inches thick ice on sidewalks and driveways has melted away and even blue sky and sweater apparel made an appearance. But some times those nice days don’t coincide with other work projects and while looking out a window towards evening the beginning of a beautiful sunset was in play. Knowing there would be no time to “get anywhere” with a nice view and interesting foreground elements, I walked into an alley near my home and made a few images. Sometimes it’s hard to just take a photograph when you know that a different place could make it a very splendid photograph. But life doesn’t always work that way, so I settled for enjoying a sunset, and wishing for more warm days to come and blue sky and some color to celebrate.

And then I realize that the month of February has not yet really begun and will try to curb my enthusiasm as I am certain more winter weather will this the area. At least the little rodent, Punxsutawney Phil did not see a shadow which predicts an early spring. One can only hope.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a colorful sky seen in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. 9photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine in Siouxland, but still Snowy, rural Monana County

28 Jan

A winter scene near Winnebago, NE Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The sun has finally peeked out from behind grey, flat skies with weather prognosticators promising more for a couple days here in Siouxland. But the white stuff still covers the ground, along with a coating of ice from rain that fell before the last snowfall. So again I sit and ponder, wishing, dreaming and waiting. No, time doesn’t go any faster, but sometimes makes me feel better.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadow play in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rolling field seen nestled in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cold January in Siouxland, rural Monona County

24 Jan

The month of January is only halfway though and winter has reminded Siouxland residents that it still has a lot to offer its residents. Cold, below freezing and zero cold. More snow. And the chance to daydream about those coming summer months with heat, humidity and warm summer nights.

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always begin thinking about driving the backroads when winter in Siouxland gets its second wind and sends real chills down the back while one is out navigating snowy and slushy roadways and sidewalks. The days may be sunny, but at zero or below temperatures one knows winter is still here. Growing up on a farm I enjoy these days driving about the countryside and “smelling” the freshly tilled soil or crops once they have begun growing. Yes, there is definitely a particular smell emitted by the soil and plants. Much like someone city-born could identify certain aromas from a neighborhood they grew up in whether it is from a restaurant or seaside community. Childhood smells remain with us as we get older and maybe more discriminating in the aromas we want to partake in.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I try to put out of mind the thought of too much humidity on a hot summer’s day. That thought will come eventually, but for now, looking out a a white landscape, it seems very enticing and comforting. It’s always nice to have something to look forward too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Weathering the Political Storm in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jan

A pedestrian makes his way on a city street donwtown as winter weather envelopes Sioux City and other parts of Iowa. The weather prevented former U.S. Sen. and vice president and 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden from campaigning in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, today ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter can be unpredictable when it comes to weather in Siouxland, or any place in the Midwest. Sioux City has been spared a lot of winter type weather so far this season, but that came to an end recently as a major storm passed through dumping 6-7 inches on its way east to spread more joy and happiness to other “lucky” residents.

An Iowa DOT snow plow clears a lane for traffic on a state roadway as winter weather envelopes Sioux City and other parts of Iowa. The weather prevented former U.S. Sen. and vice president and 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden from campaigning in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, today ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because of the presidential election year coming up and the state of Iowa being the first in the nation with a presidential caucus vote, many candidates have been making last ditch efforts to visit and engage potential supporters and energize the base they already have. But Mother Nature can forestall any hopes such as a visit by former vice president Joe Biden to Sioux City. An event here and south in Council Bluffs were cancelled because of weather.  Last year NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio visited the Sioux City area campaigning as the one to lead the Democratic party for the 2020 presidential election. A winter storm was blowing in carrying mostly rain and sleet, and reporters from the eastern city covering their mayor decided to camp out rather than risk driving at night. The Mayor’s team decided to push ahead after the event in town ended and headed out, but for only 30 minutes. The roads became too icy an dangerous to safely drive, and rather than staying where they had been with a choice of accommodations they ended up in a smaller community with one motel choice and at least a Subway sandwich shop to quench their hunger.

Nature doesn’t care about politicians and the schedules they feel the need to keep. Locals will hunker down and only go out if necessary, job depending, but politicians have to “make hay while the sun shines” as the saying goes. And with caucus only a couple of weeks away, to use another cliche, “time is of the essence”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Traffic almost disappears on a state road that leads out of town as winter weather envelopes Sioux City and other parts of Iowa. The weather prevented former U.S. Sen. and vice president and 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden from campaigning in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, today ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A U.S. Postal Service employee makes his rounds delivering mail downtown as winter weather envelopes Sioux City and other parts of Iowa. The weather prevented former U.S. Sen. and vice president and 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden from campaigning in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, today ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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