Tag Archives: agriculture

History in Siouxland, Communication Breakdown and the Inkpaduta Tragedy, Rural Woodbury County

21 Jan

A stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s probably been long stated that communication is key in any context. Even in today’s vitriolic political stalemate. People just don’t listen to one another and take offense at what is said. So history repeats itself. And a bit of history in Siouxland informs a person that communication between native Americans and the early settlers did not always garner the clarity that would have prevented violence and misunderstanding.

A plaque commemorating a stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In 1857 a band of renegade Sioux Indians were wandering what is now the rural Woodbury and Monona Counties and places north. Settlers were pushing the Native Americans off their former land to live their own version of paradise and renewal, starting life in a new place. Inkpaduta was a tribal chief of this small band of Sioux and his name became infamous in what was to become northwest Iowa when later in the same year he and his band killed settlers and kidnapped young girls from the Spirit Lake area. It’s hard to imagine even what the area looked like in the late 1850’s compared to now, with farming of the area continuous since that time period, and probably even more expanded as technology allowed farmers to cover more ground with tractors and other mobile equipment.

Terraced corn crop in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Horses grazing in a field in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And whatever few trails carried travelers through the area probably still exist as one or many of the current roadways that traverse the area. What was probably idyllic looking then is probably the same as now, only with fields rather than prairie grass. Over so many decades one would hope people would learn that it is better to communicate and find a way forward than repeating past mistakes than generally never end well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gravel road running through a part of rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An area in rural Woodbury County, Iowa near an Inkpaduta plaque marking a place where he and his tribe camped prior to heading north to the Iowa Lakes they later killed white settlers, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Fall Season ending in Siouxland, rural Sac County

16 Nov

A cornfield in Sac County near Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The recent few days have been bringing more rain and now the possibility of snow in Siouxland.  The possibility of seeing harvest ready fields is dwindling, as may be the opportunity to drive around and look at them. When winter begins settling in I drive less on the secondary gravel roads as I decline to put to use my learned skills in getting unstuck in snow, drifts or mud and other misadventures from growing up on a farm and living in rural settings my formative years. As much as I like the fall season, I know it must end and I muster up the fortitude to set out and brave the stiff prairie winds that will be greeting this region soon and to not become the couch potato that I sometimes think is a pleasant alternative to the coming cold.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

8 Oct

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

 

Though the King has been dead for many years, Elvis Impersonators, such as Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band, can still pack them in as they perform at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Siouxland’s County Fairs, Clay County, Spencer

30 Sep

Every summer I try to attend a couple county fairs. But haven’t been too successful the last couple of years because of conflicting schedules. This year though I did travel to Spencer to visit the Clay County Fair. It’s a rather large affair, bigger than some closer to my home but still encompassing those quintessential elements that all county fairs incorporate. One is 4-H and FFA where kids exhibit their projects for the year whether it’s agricultural in nature or another kind of project.

Controlled chaos as 4-H members show their sows during a competition at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And people stroll the midway and take in the sights that only fairs offer.

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes a photo of her kids with her phone during the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family enjoys the rides at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One young boy was admiring his freshly painted “ghoulish” face in the reflection of a doorway, not noticing a photographer standing nearby. Another couple was immortalizing their visit to the fair together.

A young boy checks out his newly painted face in a reflection of a doorway at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jayden Helbing, left center, an Bailey Houston, right center, and both of Sioux Rapids, get their caricature drawn by Rex Rubenzer of Wisconsin at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs are where people come for a little down home entertainment. Some may think it a relic of the past but for small communities it’s one of those passing seasonal venues that people look forward to, relaxing (unless you are a 4-H parent), the chance to eat “bad” fair food like Funnel Cakes and cotton candy, take in some wholesome entertainment and a chance to forget about day to day activities. And these days, hopefully no politicians stopping by to impress people. A place where sometimes families enjoy reunions.

A family finishing taking a reunion photo catches another photographer taking a picture as well at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So fairs can wear one out walking about and taking in all the exhibits but people still do it and enjoy it and look forward again to next year to repeat the affair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sometimes too much fair time can take a toll on a person as a man catches a nap in the shade at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Threshing Bee in Siouxland, Granite

15 Aug

I attended a threshing bee festival in the small community of Granite this summer. As a child I remembered going to one or two with my parents in the 1960’s. It brought back memories of looking at what I thought then was old equipment, which today is even older.

Visitors fill a grandstand to watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of older and antique tractors were on display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The event was kind of an ode to tractors with various makes and models on display as well as participating in a parade. But the people attending enjoyed it, much like people attending a stock car race o other event.

Visitors mill about and visit small museum like homes plus lunch stands at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the tractor parade that mostly featured antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am certain the event brought memories to some older farmers attending who actually used these tractors and other implements in their own farming when they were younger and farms were then smaller and more diverse. In the 1960’s and ’70’s farms were generally 200-300 acres and the farmers also either raised beef cattle or milked dairy, had pigs and chickens and also varied their crops between corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa plus some grazing acres for their livestock, Today farms are really nothing more than large tracts of land which either produces corn or soybeans. That is a topic that could be discussed for years.

But I like the nostalgia of the event and was glad in seeing people enjoy this historical look back at an earlier era when times were tougher and more physical, but in which people derived a lot of self satisfaction.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors checked out a variety of antique and older working tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy seeing a variety of older working and antique tractors at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gene Anderson of Harrisburg, SD sits in his refurbished Model A at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking for the latest about the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tractor parade of various models and age was the highlight of the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors enjoy the shade as they watch a tractor parade of various makes, models and vintages at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Entire families show off their antique tractors during a parade at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Viewing History in Siouxland, Granite Threshing Bee

9 Aug

I recently visited the small community of Granite in Siouxland which has an annual threshing bee that celebrates an earlier century of American agriculture. While there I met a gentlman, Ed Monson, who collects old photographs that depict the railroad history throughout South Dakota and parts of Iowa.

Ed Monson of Sioux Falls, SD talks about his train and railroad photo collection in display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through his graciousness when visiting such historic get togethers he displays some of the photos he has collected over the years which paint an early picture of small towns in their beginnings, as most settlements grew when a railroad depot was created with the traffic it would generate, and then die as railroad companies moved their depot stops to other communities. I have traveled through many a small community in Siouxland and seen signs harkening back to a town’s beginnings, mostly based upon a railroad depot.

Ed Monson of Sioux Falls, SD displays his train and railroad photo collection at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to be able to understand the history of a place and it helps when people provide an opportunity to showcase that history and share their knowledge of it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People browse throughEd Monson’s, of Sioux Falls, SD, train and railroad photo collection on display at the 34th annual Threshing Bee in Granite, Iowa July 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Zen and Photography in Siouxland, Hillview Park

23 Jul

Sometimes when I am out driving around Siouxland I have no set destination but am just looking. Looking at vistas or clouds if they happen to be in the sky that particular day. Clouds and light, and how the two interact. My mind kind of goes onto autopilot and I chase the light and the clouds and try as best as I can to combine the two. Some days are better than others, but each day is another day enjoying what is there to see.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Clouds appear to be rising up in the sky in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plants near the edge of a small manmade lake at Hillview Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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