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Curiosity always wins while Traveling Siouxland, Lytton

10 Nov

Recently while doing some work in Siouxland I came across the small community of Lytton. Many times traveling to smaller towns requires an effort simply because they may not be on a major roadway that passes through them. And being a curious sort, I always need to stop and walk about. I especially liked the community’s link to an agricultural industry. The small community of no more that a few hundred individuals is anchored by a grain elevator and a farm dealer displays his wares in the downtown area where the business is located.

A grain elevator anchors one end of downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Farm equipment forsale in downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tried finding a bit of history about the community doing an online search, but didn’t find anything that would give a quick cursory look into the community’s past. But it seemed a clean, orderly place to stop and visit and when there is more time, maybe a second look when work doesn’t beckon.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A street leads out of downtown Lytton, Iowa into the country and a cornfield, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One last Communion with Fall near Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

4 Nov

I’ve only visited Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County just south of Siouxland once before. But it’s a very nice park of just over 1,200 acres situated in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.

A view of the surrounding countryside from a tower at the lodge atHitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The lodge and lookout tower sits on a hill for excellent views at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie COunty near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has a number of trails and a lodge that sits atop a hill and looks out over the surrounding area. There is also a watch tower at the lodge we allows birders to track the various migration periods when the birds are heading either north or south, depending on the season. The one aspect of the park I like is the elevated board walk which allows some accessibility to those with wheelchairs or walkers to “get into the woods” for a quarter mile or so with stops along the way and picnic tables for those who pack a lunch or want to stay a bit and enjoy the quietude and nature.

Part of an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An elevated nature trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s just a nice way to spend part of a day putting aside the daily rush of events and happenings and imagining what the area must have looked like to explorers and first settlers when the prairie grass still covered a large portion of land before farming began. And it’s nice to know they are concerned enough citizens who have the foresight to set aside parcels of land for others to enjoy and for future generations as well as themselves. A place to reset one’s thoughts and take a pause in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A valley and farmsteads below a hilltop at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine after a number of days of rainy fall weather made leaves almost sparkle at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A view from an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 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©)

Enjoying the Attractions at the Fair in Siouxland, Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

When I visited the Clay County Fair this fall it had been a couple of years I think. I tend to roam about the place looking at the sites and people and stopping by the photography exhibit which is fairly expansive. And it’s fun to see the talent that is presented at the fair. And when I am ready for a rest and a bit to eat, I find my food then look for a venue to enjoy it. There are always artists there sharing their talent. One such person I met is singer Jill Brees Bar, born and raised in Spencer, and with a gifted voice performs there singing ballads and other songs she says she is happy her children can listen to.

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, does a quick Instagram post before performing at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, shows off her boots before performing at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, performs at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A saw a magician performing some interesting magic and having fun with the crowd. Comic Magician Jerry Frasier did some slight of hand, both doing his magic and also trying very hard to get a recalcitrant audience to react, even when his tricks seemed pretty amazing. It was a fun show to see.

Then I for a bit I watched an Elvis Tribute band perform, Forever Elvis, with singer Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band. I remarked to some people that even though the “King” himself had been dead for a few decades, his music and those performing it still packed in the crowd. Kistler was true to Elvis’ spirit and the audience responded and it was a nice way to spend part of the time at the fair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Elvis Impersonator, Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band perform at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Though the King has been dead for many years, Elvis Impersonators, such as Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band, can still pack them in as they perform at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 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©)

Seeing Details in Siouxland, Linn Grove

18 Sep

Driving about in Siouxland there are so many places to visit and revisit that sometimes I wonder what I might find this time after choosing one. These places are not the WOW of New York City or AWE of say LA, but quiet scenes in small towns that are but a spec in the scheme of things. The flash of an eye as one sails through. And sometimes it is the details of a place that I enjoy most, although somewhat out of context when seen by itself.

Downtown Linn Grove, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Linn Grove has a little over 150 people living in it. A couple store fronts and mostly residents off the beaten track. In the fall with its curving road running through its downtown and out into the rolling hills it gets an almost New England kind of feel to it. And so for me in small places like this I like small details, present but not overtly so.

Lichen growing on an abandoned railroad crossing bridge over a creek near Linn Grove, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small look of a much larger scene.

 

Shapes and designs in Linn Grove, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

All places have there charm, and blemishes. Bigger cities blemishes show more because there seems to be more of them. And they are bigger. Small communities have them too, but all are pretty in their own way. Even if viewed at a particular angle while screening out the surrounding sights, for that moment it’s just a lovely sight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A flower following the sun in Linn Grove, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A blue door in Linn Grove, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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