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“Kids’ Day in Siouxland, Woodbine

24 Jun

I recently began exploring parts of southern Siouxland and driving about to get oriented and take time to walk some of these communities’ streets. During a stop in Woodbine one Friday afternoon I heard sirens sounding and thought, sadly, that somebody’s home or business was in danger as the fire department call is not always the best thing to here.

But this particular day the sirens repeated themselves in the proximity of the downtown area so I inquired if there was a special event or parade about to take place. An employee of the local  newspaper informed me that on Friday afternoons during the summer months the fire department gives local children a ride around the downtown in the fire trucks.

And walking a block over to the staging area where the trucks were parked, kids and parents were lining up to take part of a community event that maybe someday will instill  one or some of these youngsters to be involved in their local volunteer fire department. A job for many small communities that still depends on the support of its local citizenry.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Eastern Siouxland, Whittemore

22 Jun

During my recent Memorial Day drive I stopped by the small Siouxland community of Whittemore, Iowa. The town began in the late 1870’s and is named for a railroad engineer named Don Whittemore. It’s a pleasant town that was especially quiet on Memorial Day as people celebrate the holiday attending services in the morning and then enjoying the holiday like many others getting together with family and friends. Like many smaller communities I have visited it is anchored by a grain elevator business, but also has a  nice downtown. One of the stores is a hardware store, and in the window are four names denoting different generations of that family’s ownership.

A business that has been in the family for generations in Whittemore, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downtown area has a little “park” or seating place to get in out of the sun on especially hot days and many of the homes were of the grander type dating from the late 1800’s of early 1900’s showing off the community’s well being as was much the case in the early settlement days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Visiting a small town in Siouxland, Gayville, SD

18 Jun

On a return trip from Yankton, SD, I stopped off in a small community called Gayville. Driving into town I saw someone had a sense of humor with a smile painted on the roof of a business. As I admired the smile and took some photos an older gentleman passed by and also smiled. He probably has seen many folk look at this face seen by passing railway trains going to and fro.

Somebody with a sense of humor in Gayville, SD Friday, May 26, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Another attraction to Gayville is the Gayville Hall which has a sign that says it is the Home of the Hay County Jamboree. Online information says it is one of the community’s first businesses built.

The Gayville Hall in the downtown area of Gayville, SD Friday, May 26, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I didn’t stick around for a long period of time but walked around a bit just trying to get a sense of the place. But that may be better done with a return visit to one of the jams at the hall when folk come out to enjoy themselves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Honoring the Flag in Siouxland, Ute

16 Jun

In most of the smaller communities I explore someone is flying the Star and Stripes somewhere in the community. Flag Day is set aside each year to honor America’s symbol. But in visiting various communities the flag is honored everyday. It is part of the American life. And no matter how vitriolic and mean spirited people can become about issues, most people stop and reflect and appreciate being able to live in a country where freedoms are not lip service. Land of the free, home of the brave. And while every effort is made to honor those who serve our country, there are so many others equally as brave who pursue their purpose in life in helping others and continuing to make America a country people can be proud.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

On a wind brisk day Old Glory snaps to attention in Ute, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Lands West Siouxland, Bushnell, NE

10 Jun

Earlier this spring I helped a friend move to western Nebraska far removed from Siouxland. She is excited to start a new chapter in her life and to return to a landscape more to her liking, as well as a dryer climate. While there I stopped into the small community of Bushnell, NE. Like some towns in Siouxland which sit at the western most border of Iowa, Bushnell sits at the western most border of Nebraska. The Wyoming border is only 8 miles away. Because of time constraints on my part, I wasn’t able to explore the region very much, but enjoyed it immensely for its change from what I see daily in Iowa. It reminds a lot of areas in west Texas when I lived there as well as New Mexico.

The community of Bushnell is a small place, like many in Siouxland. There are few residents and the town provides a place to reside which the locals enjoy. Far removed from larger communities, but near enough by car to larger places like Cheyenne or Scottsbluff to “get out of Dodge” for a day to shop or enjoy a change of pace.

The early morning light during my walk around was hard and directional. ‘Tis the season with summer here but like west Texas it illuminates the landscape and its occupants well. Like a lot of small Siouxland communities a few small businesses anchor the downtown area and a multitude of trains regularly pass by. It was a nice visit and maybe down the road I can explore more of the surrounding area without any time constraints.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wet Tulip Festival Celebration, Orange City

8 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Siouxland Summer brings Fresh Produce, Sioux City

4 Jun

Last year I was negligent in getting to any of the Farmers Market days in Sioux City. Various projects and it seems other needed agendas kept me away. This past week I visited the market. While technically still in the spring season, the offerings will begin to grow as summer gets even closer and vendors from throughout the Siouxland region bring their items to the market, here and other area towns. And delectable treats and organic food awaits for people to enjoy the fruits of others labor.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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