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Screaming in Siouxland, Ice Cream Days, Le Mars

8 Jul
Everyone enjoys ice cream during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As summer arrives so does a little normalcy with events once again occurring in Siouxland, like Ice Cream Days in Le Mars. One of the largest companies in the small community, Wells Dairy is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream. And every year the town celebrates and one generally gets some free ice cream to eat on a hot June day which is a pleasant way to start a weekend.

Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Blue Bunny train winds its way through the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman tosses out candy to children along the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The morning starts with a parade and community residents and surrounding area line the street. Who doesn’t like a parade. It’s a perennial event with other scheduled activities and an arts avenue with a variety of vendors. Like many communities, people are enjoying what summer should be like. But the unknown involving the various virus spinoffs is still just that, unknown. And hopefully for a moment’s joy folk won’t pay a price for “returning to normal” too soon, without precautions. Fall seems like a long ways off, but the longest day of the year has already passed and the days are again shortening. Time is the only constant.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Chidlren scramble for candy in the street during the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Richard Bogenrief plays patriot songs as he walks the parade route during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People crowd the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days Parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Nebraska Town in Souxland, Winslow, NE

26 Jun
A train passes an entrance into the community of Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland the last number of years I come across many smaller communities whose heyday was maybe another century or two ago. When small towns are first founded, so many did so because of the railroad and the early frontier bringing people west. Winslow, NE might fit into this category.

But as time goes by demographics and situations change. Especially for the smaller communities as people leave the area, children move to larger cities looking for employment and the surround countryside changes in that many smaller farms in a farming community have fewer of them, for whatever reason. It was originally platted in 1906 and incorporated as a village in 1909. Trying to find historical information online about various places, especially small communities is not always easy, and in most cases, hard to find.

Downtwon Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A vacate building in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A partially vacate, abandoned building in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always have questions. But many times when I am passing through there are not all that many people out and about. And one really needs to find someone older who has a sense of history of the place. But many could probably not tell a visitor how the community began. What drew area residents there other than to work in small businesses that probably supported the local agricultural community, that is small farms. An article printed in a regional newspaper in 2019 tells the plight of this community and problems it has faced in the past. Which explains a lot to me about the state of affairs as I travel through, seeing it after an irksome flood destroyed or heavily damaged most parts of the community.

History exists for every place. But sometimes its known by only a few and those inquisitive about its existence.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Renovation is underway at a building in downtown Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through in Siouxland, Cedar Bluffs, NE

16 Jun
Main street in Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days driving in Siouxland I may stop in a small community, but not spend a lot of time there. Roads pass through, and so do I. The 2010 census says there are around 230 residences in Cedar Bluffs, NE.

There are days where I am headed somewhere specific and do not want to spare the time, and other days I might drive about a bit, then make a couple of photographs of what visually appeals to me, no reflection on the community. And then see it recede in the mirror as I look for another place to stop and peek at, and ponder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

14 Jun
Earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From time to time while driving about Siouxland I like to revisit places, even if it’s off-peak for any activity that might be going on. The Heritage Village in Sioux Center is one such place. A small replica village that celebrates the history of the early settlers and the agricultural aspect of the Midwest. The place has a different look during different seasons, even without the activity of its fall festival celebration.

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers traveled very light, or as light as they could if going west by wagon and any other means of transportation. Some of the early plains settlers lived in sod houses. The wall thick with cutouts for windows, the small abodes kept folk cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter. But with very little room to move about, it’s safe to assume most activity, weather dependent, took place outdoors. And in those days I am sure there was no lack of work to survive and hopefully to also enjoy themselves in simple pleasures, like a nice day with sunshine, light breeze and a decent temperature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Memorial Day in Siouxland, Le Mars

12 Jun
DAVE OTT, foreground, and other American Legion Wasmer Post 241 Honor Guard members fire a 21 gun salute as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A member of the Armed Forces salutes during the presentation of the Colors as he and area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of places one can celebrate Memorial Day in Siouxland, remembering those who have and are serving along with loved ones who have passed on to a better place.

I always enjoy the ceremony in Le Mars, where this year another 40 some flags were added to the Avenue of Flags that dot the Plymouth County Courthouse lawn and this year the boulevards across the street. At one point in the program all of the names belonging to those flags that family members have donated are read. This year that number totaled over 1,400 names.

Dennis Britt’s wife, Joyce, and family donated a flag in his honor at the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
ROCKY BUNJES, of Le Mars, IA, and American Legion Wasmer Post 241 member served in the Army during the Vietnam war. Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Dog tags hang from each flag as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not as many people attended this year as I have seen in the past. That is understandable. There is still residual dealings with the ongoing pandemic, while circumstances are getting better, a success over this health issue doesn’t seem to be here yet. But those that did attend found a nice day, with moderate temperature and light breeze that made celebrating a bit more joyous that a rainy, overcast and more somber type of day.

Family members and area residents attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Flags flutter from a breeze as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next yearI will probably visit another community during its remembrance. Sad in a way that so many remembrances are held, but good that people take the time out of a “holiday” to remember those who served their country and embraced a challenge when one arose.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

ISAAC JOHNSON of Le Mars, IA, reads a dog tag looking for the flag of his grandfather Jerry Johnson as he and other area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Neighborly Chat in Siouxland, Emerson, NE

10 Jun
Two neighbors chat one afternoon in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice when visiting places in Siouxland to find neighbors taking the time to chat with one another while about and about. A cordial interaction is always a pleasure to see even as the residents check out the visitors to see what they are up to.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Heritage in Siouxland, Tulip Festival in Orange City

23 May
Two young parade participants appear tired as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With recent announcements about “life returning to normal” occurring even in Siouxland, the Tulip Festival held annually in Orange City had recently what some are saying is a historic turnout of crowds visiting the festival over its three days of a community celebration.

Thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because of a prior engagement I didn’t get to spend as much time wandering about the festival in the town as much as I might have liked. I will admit I was in a very small minority of people wearing a mask, maybe 5-6 others that I saw along the street during the parade the day I attended. Expecting people to be honest about getting vaccinated and no concern for new variants being discovered overseas and now again in the U.S. doesn’t appear to bother folk much.

A family poses for a photo at a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A family takes photos near a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I, like many, look forward to life pre-pandemic, but sometimes I think actions can be a bit premature and previously when caution was thrown to the wind, like the college spring breakers in Florida a year ago that led to a resurgence of the virus throughout the country, I wonder if the tulip festival and other events in various locales is a giant petri dish. I sincerely hope not, but caution can be a prudent thing.

It was nice to see people enjoying themselves and having fun as the weather becomes increasingly summer-like. I too enjoy getting out and visiting places again, but will hope for the best and remain cautiously optimistic.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two festival participants pose for a photographer as housands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple takes a keepsake photo near a tulip bed as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Parade participants wait for their float to begin moving as thousands of people gather at the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Old County Courthouse, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Apr
Background history of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

No matter where I might travel in Siouxland, history is always a draw for me, and learning a little bit more about a place or the people. Such was the case again in Sioux Falls at the Old County Courthouse Museum where a display of the history of the municipal band was on display.

A photograph of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
“Uniforms” of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit I have never heard this particular band play, even in its current iteration. Many times over the years various “organizations” and groups change. It’s only natural. But I can imagine hearing them play during a summer evening, music wafting out from a bandstand and people relaxed and enjoying a musical treat. It happens every summer in Sioux City when a local group performs 8 Sundays over the summer in a local park.

It is a very nice way to spend an evening, somewhat harkening back to remembrances of a certain era that evokes the play “Our Town“by Thorton Wilder about an imaginary place of innocence during an early Americana period.

Historical displays like this remind people of a snapshot in time about a place and the people. In this case hopefully happy memories to those familiar with the municipal band and a time when their only concern was hearing the music.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A photograph of concert, possibly summer, of the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A portrait of an earlier Sioux Falls Municipal Band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Some instruments used for the Sioux Falls Municipal band is on display in an exhibit in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, Le Mars Art Center

17 Apr
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to go to a local arts center and enjoy the work of people from the area who share their talent with the community which gives friends and other arts supporters a chance to celebrate them, their talent and to let folk know that art is alive and well locally.

The Le Mars Art Center recently had an opening for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller, both of whom are watercolorists or painters. Both have been “practicing” their talent for decades and presented some very nice work for others to see with an exhibit running to May.

Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With a redesigned look to the gallery area inside the art center it gives artists a space for their work to “breathe” and allow visitors and patrons a chance to stop and enjoy the work on display, as much as any larger city art gallery or museum. Each place does what it can in the area that is located, and the folk in Le Mars work hard to present quality work and display it.

And everyone needs a break once in a while to just enjoy a scene and step away from the “white noise” and enjoy beauty for what it is and what is might mean to them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends and others gather at a reception at the Le Mars Arts Center for artists Jane Schultz and Judy Zoeller in Le Mars, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Numbered in Siouxland, Ireton

15 Apr
Mailboxes in a row in downtown Ireton, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

51027, the zip code for Ireton, IA. In a city, even a small city, this cluster of mailboxes would be replaced with a different type of mailbox cluster with individual key locks making it convenient for the postal service to deliver mail to one location, saving time in some residential areas. Here in the downtown area these mailboxes do the same.

The community was platted in 1882 with a post office operating there since that same date. Current census data has roughly 600 plus living in Ireton. When seeing these mailboxes a song from the 60’s by The Marvelletes came to mind.

Simple song lyrics spell out an unrequited love without any kind of resolution according to the lyrics.

“[Intro]
(Wait) Oh yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman
(Wait) Wa-a-a-ait, Mr. Postman

[Chorus]
Please Mr. Postman, look and see (Whoa yeah)
Is there a letter in your bag for me?
(Please Mr. Po-o-ostman)
‘Cause it’s been a mighty long time (Whoa, yeah)
Since I heard from this boyfriend of mine>”

Maybe a young girl, from a small Iowa town, left behind, forgotten? The scenarios are endless. As is time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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