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Celebrating Christmas displays history, Santa’s Castle, Storm Lake

15 Dec
Santa waits patiently for a young girl to stop crying and talk with him at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enter Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, as it opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When it’s Christmas time in Siouxland, a favorite place to visit is Santa’s Castle in Storm Lake. It had been a few years since I was last there and always enjoy it because it’s the kind of place that celebrates the kids in all of us. There are so many various types of animatronics on display collected in the last few decades that are still functioning and brings smiles to all who pass through.

This year the Castle was reorganized and displays apparently were grouped by decades of when they first appeared and people come in the front door and then snake around the area until at last they meet the. Big Guy himself, and kids get to ask their favor of Santa.

Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large contingent of parents and grandparents with children in tow meander through looking for answers to a handout fact sheet they receive when entering. The various displays are mesmerizing and one could stand more minutes at a time to watch the animation unfolding in front of them. Sadder still, maybe, in that some of these animations I recognized seeing as a child myself. Which I hope I still am in spirit if not in flesh.

A family tries to engage a young boy for a photographer as Santa also tries to coach the boy’s attention Santa at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa and a young boy try to coach the boy’s sister to talk with Santa at Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking through Santa’s Castle is a bit of a sensory overload but in a nice way. In the building’s basement is a large scale model train setup that still captivates and holds everyone’s attention, possibly letting them relive those former childhood memories. Memories one may hope that more folk can enjoy in a positive way and find a continuing of the Christmas spirit through the next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children and those young at heart watch a train display as Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Castle opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle, originally Santa’s Workshop, opens its doors for visitors Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 and will run run through Dec. 26 where a collection of animatronic Christmas decorations collected over the years beginning in the 1960’s will be on display seen in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa’s Castle Board president Ron Hott, left, talks with electrician Ray Delp, right, about some glitches Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 as Santa’s Castle opens for the holiday season running through Dec. 26 in Storm Lake, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History in Ruins in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

3 Dec
An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel about Siouxland my imagination sometimes wanders and I wonder what life was life before my time in the area. On an outing with another photographer we happened upon an old passenger train rail car in Tekamah, NE. The rail car has seen better days and I wonder what rail line it covered and when and where did it transport people in an earlier era. Speculation as to its current location made us think that maybe someone had found the rail car, moved it to this location for possible later use say for a museum or some such thing. But time has taken its toll and now only the rail car knows what its former glory days were like and who traveled the rails in it possibly searching for a new beginning or visiting a past one. All I can speculate is that its history is now firmly in the past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a “Rust”ic adventure in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

17 Nov

Rusted roofs of sheds near a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes simple is best. During a recent outing in Siouxland and driving a backroad on a return trip from Omaha, NE, I came across some buildings that had seen better days while on a photo safari with a fellow photographer. Sometimes when I see something, one aspect of a possible image just “speaks to me” and I then must work hard to slow down and photograph other possibilities. The other photographer had spotted a grain elevator off the beaten path as we drove through Tekamah and so ventured up toward that area. I was fascinated by another building at first and made number of images of it and some other objects but then drifted back to a couple of sheds. In humans, the “stains” and aged marks would give a person a worn, weathered look, maybe good or bad, depending on one’s point of view. But the buildings made me thing of similar places I had seen as a child growing up on a farm in a smaller community. Maybe not having that distinguished look of a stone structure in a big city of a courthouse or library, but the two sheds were humble in their appearance and the work they seen taken place under their eaves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A detail image of a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Red in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

28 Oct

A doorway with red markings on a an older brick building fallen into disrepair in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some days while driving about Siouxland that something catches one’s eye. Traveling with a friend recently we passed through the small town Tekamah, NE and an old grain elevator caught his eye. And while walking about I saw an old brick building, and a doorway, or what was left of each. What the red markings might mean to someone is anybody’s guess. Maybe even the one who made them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reliving the Old Wild West in Siouxland, Iowa Western Border Agents, Grand Heritage Center, Washta

22 Oct

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While attending the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival Days in Siouxland, in September, I ran into some folk who I previously met and photographed who belong to a black powder gun club, the Western Iowa Border Agents, and do staged Wild West Shootouts at various places they visit. Sometimes parades, sometimes other festivals. I talked with some of the club members a few years ago and asked about their interest in the Old West. Some of the kids then are now grown adults and according to one dad, living on their own as he smiled and looked at his sons.

Visitors to the festival watch as the Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The men’s portrayals and sharing of their interest is no different than those who attend Civil War re-enactments around the country, being involved in a kind of real-world experience of past events.

One of the gentlemen told me he does all of the loading for the rounds fired for the pistols and rifles. But that, like with everything else, costs have risen due to the pandemic and limited supplies, some items have gone from $12.00 per pound beyond $100.00 per pound for material. Which for an enthusiast is a steep cost for a hobby.

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those that watch enjoy the staged event, a retelling of some of the harsher elements of the Old West where slights and disparaging remarks were settled by gunfire. Sadly those, it mirrors some of the current occurrences that happen today. Someone slights someone at a party and then you read about a person returning with a weapon and shooting someone.

One of the gentlemen told me that a parade event the group has been involved with for many, many years and in which they always did a staged shootout during the parade has been cancelled for a couple of years. Organizers cited the Parkland School shooting event which had happened that year and couldn’t in good conscience allow the stage shooting as people not aware of the staged event could panic believing an actual shooting is taking place. Modern society is not so modern sometimes.

But doing the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival in attendance enjoyed the “show” and everyone walked away and deciding who would hit the dirt the next time as we all like to come out as heroes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club talks to their cameraman prior to a staged Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple chat prior to the Western Iowa Border Agents’ stage shootout event at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Labor Day in Siouxland, Hawarden

26 Sep

An Iowa Army National Guard Honor Flag unit lead as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Labor Day in Siouxland and the rest of the U.S. is the holiday that basically says summer is over and fall is beginning with everything else to follow. It’s the time to celebrate the working men and women that make an economy thrive. Most small towns celebrate Labor Day in one way or another. Hawarden does so each year with a parade.

A grain elevator anchors one end of down town as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The West Sioux High School football team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the West Sioux High School cheer team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small town community celebrates its small town atmosphere. A number of floats contain local town folk, young and older. And the streets are lined from downtown out to a city park with food booths and other entertainment. Probably mild by larger city standards, the parade is enjoyed by the community residents and a chance to relax before life becomes more hectic as schools once again are up and running after the summer break and farmers anticipate their fall crop harvest normally started in October and November, depending on the crop growing season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux County Youth Fair royalty, princess KAIE PLENDL, left, queen OLIVIA FEDDERS, center and Little Miss Sioux County BREA LEUSINK, ride a float as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always a favorite as small town parades the Abu Bekr Shrine Rat Patrol perform precision driving along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young boys points out the large tractor and grain wagon as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Mariachi band performs along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Graduating class members of 1972 from West Sioux High School participate in the parade as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hobnobbing with Fellow Wizards (photographers) from around Siouxland, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

20 Sep

A water pool and art installation seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Instructors and photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As much as I like to get out and travel to various points in and around Siouxland, and points outside of the Siouxland region during solo trips, it is also fun to sometimes hang out with fellow photography enthusiasts, chatting and learning from others.

A recent outing in Omaha, NE at the Gene Leahy Mall, brought together a collection of photographers through a photo walkabout sponsored by the Rockbrook Camera photo club. Everyone’s mission was to make an interesting photo within the confines of the mall, which has recently been redone by the city, and those were later shared amongst the participants. A couple of instructors from Rockbrook were on hand to answer questions and guide the group through the 2-hour session.

Photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Omaha in the background during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Contrasting shapes seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The friendly group wandered about checking out various angles and designs provided by surrounding buildings and artwork within the mall area. When a collection of photographers assemble in the same setting I am always amazed at the various subjects of interest and different interpretations achieved by different individuals. When I previously taught a Photo Safari class at a local community college the most fun was seeing all the images at the end of the 6-week session and listening to those in the class amazed at how people saw the same situations and subjects, but created varying images that represented the individuals interpretations.

A scene during the Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerred Zegelis of Rockbrook Camera, one of two instructors for a photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little girl enjoyed a water pool and photo enthusiasts took advantage of her getting wet as her mom watched during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I would always tell students when out shooting with them on the Safari photo trips that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day than making photographs. It’s still true, and the Siouxland and surrounding region still provide much material to explore and share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Omaha is seen in the background during a photo walkabout outing by Rockbrook Camera at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some ducks know a good thing as they are fed in a small lagoon area seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Tradition in Siouxland, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s 156th Annual Homecoming Celebration, Winnebago, NE

10 Sep

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One annual event I look forward to while traipsing around Siouxland is the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Homecoming celebration which has been annually celebrated since the tribe’s Chief Little 7Priest and his warriors returned home from serving with the U.S. Calvary in the 1860’s. Since that time many of the tribe’s members have served and continue serving in the U.S. military. And the homecoming celebration honors those veterans current and past.

It is also a time when tribal members and other tribes can “show off” their regalia and dancing skills as many contest are held throughout the 4-day event which is a chance for non native individuals to meet and learn about their Native neighbors. And where members of the various tribes pass on their traditions to their younger children and relations always remembering the reason why they celebrate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in an intertribal dance during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The pow wow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dancers with local, regional and national tribes participate in the Grand Entry during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Friday, July 29, 2022. The powwow honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History Re-enacted in Siouxland, Canton Civil War Days, Canton, SD

8 Sep

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I attended a Civil War battle re-enactment in Siouxland of the Champion Hill battle that took place outside of Vicksburg, MS in 1863. Interestingly enough the family that hosted this event had a great grandfather or great, great grandfather who actually fought in this particular battle and was part of an Illinois regiment that fought for the North during the Civil War. Sometimes listening to speakers and commentators speaking through a loud system one does not always hear correctly. And this was the first year this event was held.

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From news accounts I read, a local from the area of Canton had become interested in Civil War re-enactments and attended some in the past out of state. But with the last couple of years or so being skewed by the Covid pandemic and possibly not wanting to travel so far, this individual began investigating whether or not such a re-enactment of an actual event could take place in Canton. There were some accounts about this being possibly controversial, only because at the time of the Civil War, the Dakota Territory was still just that, a territory and not yet divided into two individual states.

Re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience listens as re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This re-enactor from Missouri talks about his interest in the Civil War history when in 2005 wasinvited to participate in a staged battle and has stayed involved participating in many staged events throughout the county, the latest at the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Confederate Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the re-enactment two “gentlemen” dressed in period attire spoke about the war and added many factoids and bits and pieces of the war between the states. I am not certain where these gents haled from or their background, but they were knowledgeable. Nor did they sugar coat or try “rewriting” history but said through all written declarations about the South and its secession it was all about the slavery. And the ability of the southern land owners to continue reaping benefits and profits from enforced slavery to plant and harvest crops. The men also talked about the toll of the war on communities and the men who fought. They recited facts and figures of desertions from men for the South and the North who became disenfranchised with the fighting that dragged on for years which was much different than what many were told at the outset. That the war would be over in a short time. Much like the bravado evidenced in the movie “Gone with the Wind”. But reality was much different and much crueler.

A Union Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John (seen in blue tee shirt) and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A smoke ring created after firing a canon as Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found the running commentary helpful in putting facts and fiction and other accounts into perspective. One can always take what is said with a grain of salt. And today, so many “learned” folk try to rewrite history to serve their own purpose. Many politicians of all stripes and parties. Shameless. It seems sometimes that ethics and honor doesn’t really matter anymore. But it was an interesting glimpse into the past of this country and in talking with a few of those participating in the battle, all have a genuine interest in the history and portraying it honestly, traveling from eight different states to attend. History never changes, it’s just the interpretation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History and Heritage in Siouxland, Honoring Veterans, Winnebago, NE

25 Aug

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year for the last 156 years the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has held a “Homecoming Celebration” that other folk know as a powwow that takes place in Siouxland. I have attended the homecoming over the years and besides the pageantry that does take place with various tribal members displaying their regalia while dancing for competitions or enjoying what is an intertribal dance, the main purpose of the homecoming is honoring the veterans of the tribe and veterans in general who have served the U.S. which began when Chief Little Priest and his warriors of of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. Each day of the celebration flags are raised at dawn and the colors retired before sunset.

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska hoist American flags at dawn, one representing current and former members of the U.S. military, as they celebrate the tribe’s156th Pow Wow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After an afternoon of dancing and displaying of regalia by the various tribes who attend and participate, the colors are retired, and for both posting and removing, all veterans are asked to attend and help out with respect for those who have served and fought in wars since the 1800’s to the present day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Powwow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A veteran salutes as the Colors are retired for the day as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebrates its 156th Powwow celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Saturday, July 30, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gustave Smith, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska served as a tank operator under the command of General George S. Patton during WWII and was honored this year during the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska celebration of its 156th Powwow at Veterans Memorial Park Pow Wow grounds in Winnebago, NE Sunday, July 31, 2022. The homecoming honors the return of War Chief Little Priest and his warriors of Company “A” Fort Omaha Scouts Nebraska Volunteers, who were scouts for the U.S. Calvary from 1863-66. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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