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Enjoying Fall in Siouxland, Fields of Fun in Sioux Center

12 Oct

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall arrived in Siouxland recently with cooler temperatures and rainy weather. The former is a nice change of pace from recent 80’s and 90’s and high humidity, but the rain could wait a while. For some folk though it hasn’t “dampened” there enthusiasm for fall celebrations of various harvests and Halloween. Fields of Fun is a destination stop near Sioux Center started recently after a former fall place, Pumpkinland, ceased to exist. And the people behind the new venture wanted to continue the spirit families experienced at the former.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fields of Fun is located on a working farm. There are some animals for children to see and possibly engage with as well as the chance to pick one’s own pumpkin and “get lost” in a cornfield maze.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors are encourage to pick up maps before entering the maze, but sometimes people can be obstinate, and eventually lost. A nice thing for people living locally is a bike trail that passes by the farm and many cold ride their bikes to enjoy a day of exercise and seeing what is there. Although carrying home pumpkins, gourds and other baked or canned goods could prove challenging.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween is approaching fast. And it’s nice to get out and enjoy a fun respite from the real world and see a little “country”, even if it’s only minutes outside of town and mostly viewing the tops of cornstalks. But it’s a good place to start.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing and Experiencing Art in Siouxland at the Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

Something to crow about seeing chicken art on display for visitors at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs can be pretty universal in that they can provide a little something for everyone in Siouxland. Art not withstanding. Some things may seem a bit kitschy but still enjoyable and certainly on some level, educational. The Arts on Grand organization is a support group promoting local artists. And part of that support was putting an artist on the grounds of the fair where people could talk with and observe an artist creating their art.

A member of the arts organization Arts on Grand from Spencer, Iowa films artist Cathy Veiseth doing an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some folk may not think much about art or the people to create it. Many visual artists create their visions through whatever medium they have an interest in whether it be some kind of painting, oil, watercolor or pastel, photography, sculpting or ceramics. All artists create. And it’s could for folk to see someone create a vision they may have in their head and understand how what a person sees is translated into a completed work. I didn’t see the finished product of Spencer artist Cathy Veiseth but did chat with her and was engaged in her enthusiasm for sharing her talent with fairgoers and her general want of expressing herself. Different artists have different driving factors for creating their finished pieces, but all seem genuinely interested in sharing what they see and their interpretation of the world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Solitude in Siouxland, Dordt University Prairie, Sioux Center

28 Sep

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently found out about a small nature preserve in Siouxland just a few steps away from Dordt University, a Christian college that strives to help students realize faith in their lives is as important as well as preparing them to succeed in life through their academic endeavors. The Prairie is only steps away from the school’s campus and is a nice walk, although probably better on a cooler day than when I visited. I has the look of an earlier century prairies and is large enough that it affords a person some solitude and quiet within its confines, providing space for a person to sit, contemplate and unwind from daily activities and schedules.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the interior part of the prairie is a prayer garden where there are rock formations allowing a person to sit and seek spiritual guidance if one wants, or just sit and listen to the immediate surroundings be it the wind, crickets, cicadas or flies. All God’s creatures. It was a weekday morning so there wasn’t anyone else around and I wandered the grounds a bit enjoying what I came across and following a path until I came to the garden.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Students’ lives are busy enough and I remember my days in college and at times going into the school’s quadrangle at off peak hours to sit and listen to nature. With few people around the birds came alive and there were plenty of trees landscaping the area along with specie names and such to, of course, make it educational. And the small prairie is good for residents as well who also need that occasional down time away from the “white noise” that society and modern day living provides. A neighborhood abuts the prairie and a wide path makes it easy to traverse and enjoy a quick escape before “reentering” the world and again engaging life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Siouxland Community, Bancroft, NE

26 Sep

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I get out and about I like visiting small towns in Siouxland. Getting a chance to stop and walk about and see what is there. Although the times I visit may not be ideal in that if it’s a weekend, there may not be much activity. And generally speaking, in small towns these days activity is limited unless there is a community-wide event occurring.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site is located in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there is the matter of taste. I like finding what I consider interesting subjects to photograph which does not reflect the nature or character of some places I visit. But visually it appeals to me whether it’s a doorway with peeling paint, brick structures built in the mid to late 1800’s or some other quirky attribute that is what I gravitate to photograph.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I have found visiting a number of these smaller communities these days they all generally have grain elevators anchoring one end of the downtown. A tribute to the agricultural industry that is important to so many Siouxland communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. And sadly businesses that may have thrived for a period of time but run their course.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But exploring the area one lives in is an interesting pursuit I believe and knowing and understanding a bit more about one’s community is not a bad thing. Plus so many times one meets people that makes it all worthwhile and helps in appreciating what one finds.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Food, Music and Hot Cars in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

24 Sep

Muscle and vintage cars fill the downtown area during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out looking for another event one weekend I stumbled upon a community’s celebration of food, music and muscle or classic cars, something which has been going on for years but I had no clue.

Vermillion’s Rib, Rod and Rock and Roll Fest started off a little soggy but didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm to enjoy themselves as they strolled the downtown area looking at classic cars and eating. The latter always a favorite past time of mine.

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One car owner makes a second attempt after a rain shower to keep her vehicle looking spotless during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was a rib cooking contest and for a fee people could help judge the various cook’s results and come away with a full tummy. Unfortunately since I had been out looking for an event I came to find out had been cancelled because of rain, I missed that part of the festival. But I feasted on the smell of what must have been a sumptuous chance to give input on smoked ribs.

Tables were at the ready for hungry folk checking out the food vendors and bbq rib making contestants during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Attendees of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People ate, walked about looking over the cars and listening to music then ate some more and repeated steps 2 and 3. And everyone got into the mood, even a cute little guy that put up with his mistress and seemed to take the day in stride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One cutie took in passers-by during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

One attendee of the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival makes his point about the event in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds still hovered nearby during the Ribs, Rods, and Rock ‘n Roll Festival in Vermillion, SD check out some muscle cars Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People Watching in Siouxland, Clay County Fair, Spencer

20 Sep

Various modes of transportation can be seen during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Almost everyone I know admits at one time or another about the enjoyment of simply people watching. We humans are a fascinating subject and one that has kept psychologists, psychiatrists and other mind probing “experts” in business for a long time with no end in sight. Being a former photographer for newspapers I spent a great deal of time watching people, looking for those moments that visually helped tell a story. Love, joy, pain, emotional distress, I saw various moods during my press days in various settings and circumstances. Now though I just enjoy seeing people out and about and enjoying themselves in the moment.

A couple check out a fairly mobile rocking chair on display during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Friends enjoy the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for moments I find interesting or contradictory in and of themselves if that happens. Guess how I photograph now isn’t so different as before but these days I avoid the emotional distress events such as fires, auto accidents and other life altering accounts that people face and I covered as a photojournalist.

Sometimes minor repairs take place at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Passers-by walk past a welcome sign at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to go someplace like the Clay County Fair and see folk having fun and taking a break from their daily routine. We all need breaks and a chance to unwind and put on hold other accounts or situations that always seem to find a way into our lives.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full house for people attending a comedian early in the day during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Spirit Mound in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

18 Sep

Spirit Mound is seen in the background behind some sunflowers at the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spirit Mound Historic Prairie is one of the place and stops taken by Lewis and Clark’s Expedition researching the Louisiana Purchase for then President Thomas Jefferson. For Native Americans at the time it represented a place of foreboding, as a website states: “Long before white men came to what is now South Dakota, the little hill known by the Sioux as Paha Wakan was held in awe by tribes for miles around. The Omaha, the Sioux, and the Otoes believe that the mound was occupied by spirits that killed any human who came near.”

The trail head at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail marker pinpoints a spot visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the “New West” for then President Thomas Jefferson seen at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited there were going to people out on the trail helping visitors to learn a little more about the Mound and other aspects of the area. But a morning rain”washed away” the volunteers as the event was postponed to the following day. But I don’t always let a little water dampen my enthusiasm or gear. And I missed the rain, and the informational pieces as I didn’t attend the following day, but enjoyed the short walk and look at Spirit Mound again as I had visited previously.

Rain puddles fill a walking trail at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Rain drops cling to a sign at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are now informational plagues erected along the trail to give a visitor some background and information one would have to research later, which still wouldn’t be a bad idea to understand more about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the Native Americans who lived in the area centuries before. History can be fascinating and sometimes it seems surreal to walk in an area visited a century or two or more by explorers and others who lived in an entirely different world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informational plague talks about the history of Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds appear on the horizon nearSpirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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