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Driving through Nature in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

16 Sep

Some days driving about Siouxland I just enjoy the look of nature, even if it incorporates a bit of agriculture. It’s still bucolic and relaxing and away from any glitz and hubbub of life in any fast lane. Cows are only interested if you brought any feed with you as long as you are stopping by. They gaze, then go about grazing again, just enjoying the day and the quiet of the countryside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

 

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

National Old Time Music Festival in Siouxland, Le Mars, Part 2

14 Sep

 

The National Old Time Music Festival is an interesting find in Siouxland in that so many people make their way to a small community like Le Mars to attend. One such couple came from the Queensland area of Australia, Lloyd and Sue Back. He does folksy story telling through his songs and has produced a few albums and was receiving recognition at the festival and so they decided to attend. They said they were a little taken aback after their finally arrived in Le Mars because there was no taxi service and it took a little doing to get from their motel to the fairgrounds where the festival takes place. But being a small town, they found someone willing to drop them off as it was on their way to their own destination.

Lloyd Back, of Queensland, Austrailia performs 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©)

 

Another gentleman who travels and performs but calls Austin, TX, home was relaxing before playing again. Barry Schmick talked about his love of his harmonicas and did a short demonstration as explained how each has its own particular niche. And one could tell he loves to play and hang with like-minded people as he could find at the festival.

Barry Schmick, Austin, TX, demonstrates some of his harmonicas 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©)

 

Barry Schmick, Austin, TX, demonstrates some of his harmonicas 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©)

 

Barry Schmick, Austin, TX, demonstrates some of his harmonicas 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©)

Then it’s always a treat to see “local” people perform such as Elaine Peacock of Elk Point, SD, that is in Siouxland proper. Elaine quit her “real” job a few years ago to pursue full time her lover of music and has not looked back. You will see her performing around the area as well as donating her talent to fundraisers to help her local community. And she is always making new friends as people volunteer to play while she sings.

Elaine Peacock, Elk Point, SD, center, sings and is accompanied by other musicians during 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©)

 

Elaine Peacock, Elk Point, SD, center, sings and is accompanied by other musicians during 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©)

 

There is such a feeling of family at the festival as people renew their acquaintances from previous years and make new friends. And probably make plans to see one another again at the next year’s get together.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Musicians and visitors alike renew old friendships 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©)

Vern Billingsley, Wyoming, center right on fiddle, performs 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©)

 

Visitors two-step to the music during a session 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©)

Revisiting the General Dodge House near Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Sep

I have been visiting Council Bluffs which is south of Siouxland a few times in the last couple of years. Recently I spent some time showing a fellow photo enthusiast a few spots in the area and one I like to visit is the Dodge House, former residence of one General Grenville Mellen Dodge who made his fortune by the age of 40, resided in Council Bluffs after serving the North during the Civil War, helped build and push the expansion of the railroad system west, served in Congress representing western Iowa, became a banker and a financier.

General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge as an older man hangs in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A portrait of General Grenville Mellen Dodge sits on a mantel in museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dodge was an engineer by trade and had gone west, to Illinois, to pursue his craft and at the time worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. Dodge scouted and surveyed land for a possible rail route from Illinois to western Iowa, at the edge of what is now Council Bluffs. The home he built for himself and his family after serving during the war and as he entered political life and then worked again on behalf of the railroad was grandiose for its time.

A formal dining room where General Grenville Mellen Dodge and his wife, Annie, entertained guests, now a museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sitting room/parlour in the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Vivistors are given a tour by docents with plenty of information at their fingertips to help put into perspective the life this man led and the accomplishments he achieved.

Visitors stop to take a photograph before entering the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors get an introduction in the hall entryway to the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next door to the Dodge House Museum is the Beresheim residence, which was owned by a partner in the bank of which dodge was affiliated. A docent remarked that one of the owners did not like having to back his car out of his garage so he simply installed a round table, much like a record turntable, and would pull in, then step out and give it a twirl to turn the car and point it towards the door.

A peek inside a garage with a vehicle turntable near the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A docent, right, explains the use of a vehicle turntable to visitors in a garage located near General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The home and its furnishings which are period and not necessarily any of the family’s items is located in a historic district of town which still retains it brick streets and only 2-3 blocks from the downtown area, an easy jaunt for Dodge to attend to his businesses downtown. It’s also a nice way to spend part of a day, revisiting history and retracing steps that people of another century have walked and participated in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Located in a historic neighborhood with brick streets, the General Grenville Mellen Dodge House museum is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An original piece to the home of General Grenville Mellen Dodge, the clock was purchased from a well known maker in the East, Simon Willard, and now is on display in the museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A work study used by General Grenville Mellen Dodge when he lived in his home, now a museum, in Council Bluffs, Iowa Friday, Aug. 21, 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

Driving about Siouxland, Rural Iowa

8 Sep

Some days I get into my car and just drive about Siouxland. No particular destination in mind, just some wandering about the area looking at what is there.

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was a dreary, overcast day the day I went out and so began photographing in B&W to match soft light and pale look I saw as I went about. I find shooting black and white images digitally more challenging that when I photographed with black and white film. Then at least I could count on how I processed the film and eventually what kind of photo paper to print on to achieve a print that I liked. Now it’s all about seeing tonality and understanding the conversion digitally via software. And there is some very excellent software around to help people. I pretty much stick to Adobe Photoshop and Elements when I do my work.

Impressions of a later summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t always feel like I achieve the same affect, but I keep trying and the software keeps getting better. So eventually I might achieve what I am looking to capture.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, Art Splash in Sioux City

6 Sep

Each fall around Labor Day the Sioux City Art Center puts on an art celebration in Siouxland known as Art Splash. A juried group of various types of artists from around the region set up booths to display their wares for people to buy. And most people, depending on the weather, come out to enjoy what’s there and some go home happier with newly acquired pieces of art.

Visitors browse the artists’ booths during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Joseph Murray of Jefferson, Iowa sits among his paintings during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The location of the event has changed over the years. Up until 2011 it was held in a park along the Missouri River, when during that year the hundred year flood forced a relocation. Then it was held in Grandview Park, where the hills may have presented a challenge for people to walk up and down to view the artists.

Now in its 25th year, the event is at Riverside Park, nestled among a flat woodland area that later hosts the community’s Riverssance Festival as well. I enjoy going each year just to see what people are doing. At this point in my life I have fewer needs for more things, and the ability to afford art now is prohibitive for me personally. But it doesn’t mean one can’t draw inspiration and enjoy a day out and see what creative people are doing. And the artists are not limited to just visual arts. One artist, Paul Imholte, bills himself as a stringman and plays a variety of instruments.

Artists’ booth sit among a grove of trees during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stringman Paul Imholte performs on a hammer dulcimer during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And different people take away from the event different experiences that may be portraits or time spent with family. Even during those years of inclement weather, people can still enjoy what is offered.

Chun Wang of Shawnee KS works on a sketch of Ben Honomichl of Jefferson, SD during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother and son enjoy a bit of lunch along with a number of their closest friends during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Splash makes for a nice Labor Day weekend activity both for the artists and area residents who are supporting people who also labor, but in a creative manner adding another oft times needed dimension to life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Sioux CIty Growth Organization decorated their booth with balloons to draw attention to themselves during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two young artists due their best to add to an already colorful pickup truck to make an overcast and rainy 25th anniversary of Art Splash more memorable which was held at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Vvian Miller of Akron, IA talks with a couple interested attendees during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Sheldon

4 Sep

A number of communities in Siouxland have a museum. Sheldon‘s Prairie Museum is located in a former Carnegie Library building which is as beautiful today as it was when originally built.

The Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sheldon Prairie Museum was a former Carnegie Library in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most of the museums I visit contain local history, photos of past residents and early pioneers as well as yearbooks of now closed schools if they are small communities who have seen their school districts consolidate with other nearby communities as small towns have gotten smaller.

I found the Prairie Museum unusual in the sense that it showcased some hard, not very nice history as well as the usual past. One display case talks about Mrs. Burnice Geiger, a daughter of a bank president of the Sheldon National Bank which residents learned in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s that Mrs. Geiger had been embezzling funds for many, many years, totaling a little over $2 million.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the story of a woman who embezzled money from a local bank in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in the mid 1920’s another not so savory piece of history involved a Klan Konklave which is some still prevalent in parts of the United States. But since Iowa fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War locals were astonished that such an event could happen in their midst.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the dark history of a Ku Lux Klan enclave that occurred in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The story of a Ku Klux Klan Konclave appears in an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum has happier pieces of history and volunteers that help inform a visitor about various exhibits. One small room in the museum is pretty much the same as when a family occupied their home, the furniture still intact and original except for some reupholstering. Giving viewers a look backward into time at actual local residents.

Volunteer JoAnn DenBeste gives some background on exhibits at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The photo represents the look inside a Sheldon home in 1937, and the furniture in the photo is now at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The furniture in the exhibit remained the same as it was in a home in 1937 and except for some upholstery work and repairs is now an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Museums such as Prairie Museum help a visitor understand a community and give a better insight of history, good or bad, that residents encountered. Making a visit more meaningful and receiving a better understanding of times past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety of exhibits can be found in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Earlier residents of Sheldon, Iowa, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of early Sheldon residents, and survivors of the American Civil War, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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