Tag Archives: county fair

Seeing and Experiencing Art in Siouxland at the Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

Something to crow about seeing chicken art on display for visitors at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs can be pretty universal in that they can provide a little something for everyone in Siouxland. Art not withstanding. Some things may seem a bit kitschy but still enjoyable and certainly on some level, educational. The Arts on Grand organization is a support group promoting local artists. And part of that support was putting an artist on the grounds of the fair where people could talk with and observe an artist creating their art.

A member of the arts organization Arts on Grand from Spencer, Iowa films artist Cathy Veiseth doing an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some folk may not think much about art or the people to create it. Many visual artists create their visions through whatever medium they have an interest in whether it be some kind of painting, oil, watercolor or pastel, photography, sculpting or ceramics. All artists create. And it’s could for folk to see someone create a vision they may have in their head and understand how what a person sees is translated into a completed work. I didn’t see the finished product of Spencer artist Cathy Veiseth but did chat with her and was engaged in her enthusiasm for sharing her talent with fairgoers and her general want of expressing herself. Different artists have different driving factors for creating their finished pieces, but all seem genuinely interested in sharing what they see and their interpretation of the world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People Watching in Siouxland, Clay County Fair, Spencer

20 Sep

Various modes of transportation can be seen during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Almost everyone I know admits at one time or another about the enjoyment of simply people watching. We humans are a fascinating subject and one that has kept psychologists, psychiatrists and other mind probing “experts” in business for a long time with no end in sight. Being a former photographer for newspapers I spent a great deal of time watching people, looking for those moments that visually helped tell a story. Love, joy, pain, emotional distress, I saw various moods during my press days in various settings and circumstances. Now though I just enjoy seeing people out and about and enjoying themselves in the moment.

A couple check out a fairly mobile rocking chair on display during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Friends enjoy the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for moments I find interesting or contradictory in and of themselves if that happens. Guess how I photograph now isn’t so different as before but these days I avoid the emotional distress events such as fires, auto accidents and other life altering accounts that people face and I covered as a photojournalist.

Sometimes minor repairs take place at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Passers-by walk past a welcome sign at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to go someplace like the Clay County Fair and see folk having fun and taking a break from their daily routine. We all need breaks and a chance to unwind and put on hold other accounts or situations that always seem to find a way into our lives.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full house for people attending a comedian early in the day during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fair History Trip in Siouxland, Plymouth County Fair, Le Mars

6 Sep

The display about the farming milk industry is on display in the Round barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One aspect of county fairs I enjoy is a history component that some fairs offer to visitors through exhibits, celebrating Siouxland’s past and what may still be relevant in this day and age. With the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company located in Le Mars it is not a stretch when an exhibit about dairy farming is presented in the historical Round Barn at the fairgrounds. Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart. It’s a become a 24-hour operation with the larger scale “industrial” type of dairy farms. After all, it’s America, and to continue to thrive bigger is always better and these days necessary.

The Round Barn has been a fixture at the Plymouth County Fair grounds for years in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display about the milk industry and farming on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a dairy farm though I remember my dad milking in the early morning hours and then again early evening. Even with a small herd, it’s a twice-a-day operation 365 days of the year with no days off and seldom any vacations. But farming is that, a calling with a dedication and a willingness to always be on call as needed to get the necessary chores done and enjoy life, while certainly hard at times, had rewards many people seldom experience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display about milking and its role in farming is on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small display about barns is seen inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Pioneer Village has food booths, a blacksmith shop and other places to browse as well as a small outdoor stage where performances occur at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A popular place in the Historical Village at the Plymouth County Fair is the Bakery Shop in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Means Siouxland Fair Time, Le Mars

5 Aug

Quilting samples and one fair-themed quilt showing at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes photos of her daughters at a cutout at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a farm in Illinois now makes me a little wistful when I visit county fairs in Siouxland. I tend to go a little earlier than then and spend time watching 4-H and FFA kids exhibiting their animals and realize the amount of work they have put into such projects. One needed to care for an animal as well as log information about it’s feeding and care. A daunting task for 8-14 years old kids. Now there is even more competition for their time than when I was a child.

4-H competitors trying “guiding” their charges during a competition at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

It’s not all glamour for the Pork Queen as she hands out ribbons at the conclusion of a 4-H showing competition during the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that part of the fair still generates interest among those who participate and their families and friends. Competition and winning and losing is all part of the “building character” schtick that comes with participating. And rarely do I stay later when the fair’s rides begin and those other activities come to life. Especially when it’s hot. I tend to bail. Find a food stand or someplace in the shade and a tad cooler. But walking around the animals barns one can find all sorts of interesting scenes. Those members intent on preparing their animal or following the latest development elsewhere.

A young 4-H member tries to brush her steers while also keeping up on social media during the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A steer gets a soap bath before competing during 4-H competition at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But most members of these organizations take their competition to heart. I never really cared if I got a blue, red or white ribbon. It was being there and seeing friends or neighbor kids one probably wouldn’t see for another month until school started. And of course taking in the Midway where the carnival barkers try to entice one to spend a little money or ride the ferris wheel and other rides. So I can only smile when I see someone enjoying them self and think back to my time spent of the fair, participating in 4-H for 9-10 years until I aged out and left for college. And for these young members hopefully this will be a time they too can look back on and cherish or at least fondly remember the better times as they grow and become interested in other activities which may entice them away from these organizations.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Young 4-H members wait to show their chicken projects at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A chicken rests contently in the arms of its owner as she waits to compete at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photography exhibit at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

8 Oct

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

 

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

 

Siouxland’s County Fairs, Clay County, Spencer

30 Sep

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

 

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

Seeing History in Siouxland, Marcus Historical Center

3 Oct

When I attended a fair earlier this summer at Marcus, Iowa I also stopped in at the Marcus Historical Center.

The Marcus Historical Center sits across from the Marcus Community Fairgrounds in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities have their own museum, or at least a place that is a repository of historical information about the community. It’s a great place when visiting somewhere new to learn more about the history of that place and get a better understanding of the community and area. At the time I was in the museum there were more older people looking and reminiscing about the “good old days”. Which to me always seems to be a matter of perspective and what side of the divide you happened to be on during that earlier period.

But there were some families there with children in tow. Taking a break from the fair and “seeing” some history. And every place has different items and events to tell. Many have yearbook photos from early and later days as well as newspaper clippings depicting certain memorable events that took place.

Visitors of the Marcus Historical Center look over exhibits in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The old saying of “If you don’t know where you’ve been so how do you know where you are going?” always comes to mind when I visit these museums. A lot of smaller communities were more robust in their early years when the railroad was first making its way across the nation. Communities sprang up, thrived, and then began to scale back a bit as businesses ceased and residents left and larger communities started attracting younger people who moved for opportunity. And in some cases, the railroad left as well, leaving behind memories but no clear direction of where the community would be headed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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