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Historical Women in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Park, Nebraska

25 Nov

Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near  Ft. Calhoun, NE is a look at western frontier fort life as settlers and others were moving westward looking for a new or better life and the men who worked to safeguard that passage west. The fort, while not home to women in particular, was supported by women married to some of the soldiers or nearby settlers that acquired land to work and helped build communities. The park’s welcome center contains information that helps explain the times and the fort’s purpose.

The Welcome Center seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Conquering” the western frontier wasn’t only a job done by men, even though most of history would have people believe that. Men could not have accomplished as much as they claim had in fact that women were not involved. The simple fact, without women, there would be no men.

So it was fascinating and interesting to talk with women re-enactors at the Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near Ft. Calhoun, Ne. Women in those days played the supporting role for men going West. They maintained the families and home fronts and saw to it that many basic needs were met. And in doing that also found ways that enriched their lives in small ways as well.

Marilyn Jones, center right, gives step by step instructions to a park visitor curious about the lace weaving technique she is demonstrating during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Women also provided a different skill set for practical means such as quilting, mending, weaving that applied to day to day life. They helped the new frontier much like the old frontier thrive. And made a rough existence a bit more palatable to men living there and raising their families. While women were not permitted on the fort grounds, they helped out in many ways that sustained fort life.

A view of the parade and mustering grounds during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life must have been difficult for both sexes during those frontier days, much like it is today, although for different reasons reflecting the time period. Yet one makes do and tries to find some joy in life even in the little things. Making the best of what must have been impossible situations now and again, but still finding some joy in it all.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Weaver Donna Jones, right, talks with visitors about the 100 plus years old looms she is using for her weaving projects such as the rugs seen next to the young boys and what life was like in early frontiers day during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Park visitors take a break on benches outside of soldier quarters during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors talk with a re-enactor at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park during July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Families and visitors explore the grounds and an “early frontier” garden plot during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the grounds area and a tribute seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Comes Alive in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska

19 Nov

Visitors head into Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park for July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer I spent part of a day reliving history at a Nebraska Historical Park in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson, which according to one living history participant and re-enactor, was the largest fort in the U.S. during its days of use on what was then the frontier.

I find attending such places and events informative and fun. As well as fascinating because of the people who help make history come alive for us regular folk who get the chance to understand a bit more about those folk who came before us. While those volunteering their time to portray actors can’t provide all the answers, they can help people appreciate what history says about a place and possibly give us direction where to find more information about a place’s history.

Visitors assemble for a program about the creation of the United States and a firing demonstration of muskets and canon as each state’s name is read and when it entered the Union during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes the people who portray historical characters are themselves rascals who give a nice dimensional look to an era we can only read about now.

 

Blacksmith Tom speaks with visitors during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two “regimental officers” talk about life at the fort in early frontier days during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out the Trading Post cabin outside of the Fort during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Old Time Music Festival in Siouxland, Le Mars, Part 3

22 Sep

Within a seven day span there is a lot of music happening at the National Old Time Music Festival in Siouxland in Le Mars and which this and other posts can barely do justice. But it’s a nice event, geared for families and people who want to relax and hear some old timey music in an outdoor setting, weather permitting.

Visitors listen to some gospel singing during the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Musicians coordinate with one another to play back up for each other during the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A number of performing coming from around the U.S. and other countries as well, to share their talent and play with others as each does his or her job in keeping alive music of another generation and era.

David Green, Avoca, second from right, sings and is accompanied by Terri Avery, Rowan, far left, Ed Tryon, Sioux City, second from left, and Fred Larson, South Omaha, NE, right, at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors listen to David Green, Avoca, second from right, sing and accompanied by Terri Avery, Rowan, far left, Ed Tryon, Sioux City, second from left, and Fred Larson, South Omaha, NE, right at the 43rd annual National Old Time Music Festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And with the talent that attends the festival the music has a good chance of remaining important and relevant in many people’s lives for years to come.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

World Music in Siouxland, National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD

24 May

 

The Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan ensemble which plays Javenese music is part of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

On a recent visit to the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD I and others enjoyed a Javenese music presentation by a local gamelan ensemble that performed in the small space at the museum. I enjoy a variety of music in general although I lean more toward jazz, classical and some world music. So it was a delight to hear this local group perform and share their  passion and delight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan ensemble plays Javenese music at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. Members include Deborah Check Reeves, Rebekah McLaughlin, Julie Besenbruch, Jing Williams, Risa Hanson, Caleb Hanson, Carter Hanson, Faythe Weber, Deanne Archer, Toben Archer , Tucker Lutter, ZeHui Ng, Solveig Korte and Tom Quinn. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan ensemble plays Javenese music at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. Members include Deborah Check Reeves, Rebekah McLaughlin, Julie Besenbruch, Jing Williams, Risa Hanson, Caleb Hanson, Carter Hanson, Faythe Weber, Deanne Archer, Toben Archer , Tucker Lutter, ZeHui Ng, Solveig Korte and Tom Quinn. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan ensemble plays Javenese music at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. Members include Deborah Check Reeves, Rebekah McLaughlin, Julie Besenbruch, Jing Williams, Risa Hanson, Caleb Hanson, Carter Hanson, Faythe Weber, Deanne Archer, Toben Archer , Tucker Lutter, ZeHui Ng, Solveig Korte and Tom Quinn. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning Light and White Balance in Siouxland, plus a test, Photo Safari

12 Nov

During the fall season in Siouxland I always look for different places to visit to keep interest in my Fall Photo Safari and to challenge those students attending. I also return to previous places because the light, season, and temperature is never the same. I have to thank students Elizabeth and Carey for being good sports and allowing me to test a newly acquired camera for its video capabilities, especially using a variable ND filter so I can control the amount of light while shooting outdoors with a 1/30 shutter speed and an f/4 aperture at 320 ISO. I didn’t have a tripod so I knew my technique was going to be off, but it gave me a chance to test out what I thought would work and be prepared to use it in a couple weeks when I attend some local Christmas functions.

During the fall I also schedule one class toward dusk and evening. This challenges some students because it screws with their knowledge of using higher ISO’s, white balance and most times a slower variable zoom kit lens. The lenses are fine, but one does need to learn to work around them.

The city recently began changing out the lighting from mercury vapor and other warm lamps to daylight LED’s.

Photo Safari class in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, October 31, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

We walk about the downtown area of Sioux City and as dusk falls into night, they have to think about these changes which can seem daunting. But I tell them to have fun and be creative. One way is working with the camera’s preset white balance. This scene was shot both using the tungsten setting for night and also using the Florescent 3 setting I have on my Fuji camera. I am not a fan of LED’s for night usage that are not warm because it plays with one’s sense of night and day. And we humans are geared  for warm settings come evening. But using the Florescent setting helped me give my image a warm feel.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The next scene I believe I was shooting daylight as there was still a little sunlight left in the sky and then switched to tungsten.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And as I try to explain to students, because of a “slower” kit lens sometimes one can use that to an advantage since the shutter speed is slowed down to accommodate a f/3.5 or f/4 lens. And then creatively one enters controlled motion into the image.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And with a little practice and experimentation these tweaks become more tools in the “toolbox” as one looks at familiar images and giving them a bit of a different twist.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Le Mars

22 Dec

A number of communities in the Siouxland area are celebrating the Christmas season and Le Mars, Iowa is again hosting a Lighted Parade as well as a Christmas Village where parade attendees and others can go for hot drinks and cookie treats, listen to live music, ride in light decorated wagons and spend a nice evening.

This year’s celebration was warmer than other years but it was also drizzling a bit which put some chill in the air. But people turned out for the parade downtown and the wet pavement made for some nice photos and added to ambiance. When shooting various events at night, I am all for whatever ambient light is available and the wet pavement was an added bonus, even if the air temp was colder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Music Appreciation in Siouxland, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

13 Dec

I attended a noon time holiday concert recently at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, South Dakota. Before the “main event” took place, another group performed. The Queen’s Pleasure is a Renaissance performance group that enjoys playing recorder instruments and early music,  which came into its own as early as the 13th century.

The five members of the ensemble or collegium are all capable of playing four different instruments and bring about thoughts of Shakespeare and a setting with courtly manners and refined graces. It is a quiet music, not the blaring sounds of brass or loud instrumentation of strings, but more contemplative. One really needs to listen to hear the soft sounds. The National Music Museum is a wonderful place to enjoy this and other music, with houses a large collection of instruments on display dating back to the 1500’s, and worth a visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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