Tag Archives: county fair

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

Small town Siouxland fairs, Marcus

21 Sep

In August I spent part of a day at a small community fair in Marcus, Iowa. The community has about 1,000 residents give or take. But it prides itself on providing this summer time venue along with a parade that runs through the downtown area of the community.

A bright sunny day for the Marcus Community Fair in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Emergency vehicles and local school students are part of the Marcus Community Fair parade in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents, present and former come out to enjoy the day and spend time with family and friends. I missed the earlier activities involving 4-H and the showing and exhibiting of animals and crafts. Fairs in small towns these days seem a lot smaller to me now that I am older than when I was a kid. Remembering trying not to get lost at the fairgrounds my parents took us and during the 4-H events that were held there.

It’s just time nicely spent. No hurry and enjoying the memories from my youth and seeing others enjoy their day and making memories as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Summer Time Fairs in Siouxland, Sioux Center

14 Jul

With the middle of summer approaching and the temperatures heading north, it is county fair time in Siouxland. The Sioux County Youth Fair is underway this week with other area fairs beginning as well. The fairs generally run a week with a large emphasis on the 4-H kids and their livestock or smaller animal exhibits as well as crafts and other skills learned.

Young 4-H’ers show their animal projects competing for blue ribbons and best of show at the Sioux County Youth Fair at the fairgrounds in Sioux Center, Iowa, Wednesday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As a youngster who grew up on a farm, my brothers and I participated in 4-H projects. Those times have changed as there are now fewer small farms and in some respects less “farm kids” who participate. 4-H shifted its perspective a number of years ago and began to seek “city kids” more actively to participate. It is a good organization much like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts teaching youth to follow through on projects and participating in character building activities.

Those who exhibit animals have to keep substantial records of the care given as well as demonstrate knowledge about that particular animal breed. It can be time consuming but one learns so much from doing. I like to see the kids exhibits and watch them show their animals, which brings back memories of my own participation. Some of which I can laugh about today, but then, not so much. And it’s nice to see the continuation of 4-H and the kids enjoyment in participating.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland County Fair Time, Moville

1 Aug

Growing up in Illinois, in a rural area, I remember the summertime visits to the local county fair. It was at a time when there were many more small farm operations throughout the region. Probably at that time a large farm contained at most a thousand acres. I talk about the number of farms because I believe they directly impacted the success of such organizations as 4-H clubs and the Future Farmers of America. At that time, more kids involved in 4-H were from farm families than from town.

I visited the Woodbury County Fair this week in Moville, Iowa, and saw some animal judging and walked through some exhibit halls as well as the animal barns. I talked with one young Siouxland lady who was “resting” on her market beef animal and asked about the number of clubs participating from the area. This was her fourth year involved in 4-H. I participated for eight years as many people do. She thought there were maybe 5-6 4-H clubs participating at the fair. When I was in 4-H, there were maybe 15-20 4-H clubs with anywhere from 20-30 members, each showing one or more animals at the fair, as well as crafts and it was huge. The dairy animals were always shown a couple weeks prior to the county fair with maybe 100-150 animals involved. During fair time, the beef animals ruled, with three full barns, with additional barns for hogs. There were maybe 200-300 4-H members involved.

But times have changed, less small farms, such 4-H members now live on small acreages their parents or grandparents own and they raise the hogs, beef, or sheep there. But the one thing that still pervades these young people’s involvement is their pride in their animals and their exhibition of them. I came across two club members cleaning the comb of a chicken and its talons so they would be clean for the animal judge. There was one barn that featured the work of the 4-H club members that included crafts, photography, food and other categories. It is fun to walk through these and see what has changed, and what has remained the same. For me it’s a nostalgic walk but also it supports those still involved with this part of Americana. History based in agriculture, which is still a big deal. Or should be. No food, no life.

jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Travel photographs outside Siouxland

18 Aug

Sometimes over the years one “collects” photographs you like that have been done in a variety of places. Trips or the chance to live somewhere else for a while gives a person an opportunity to spend time photographing other areas of the country. But of course that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some past photographic opportunities here locally I just haven’t been able to post yet. So this gallery is a look of some images I have previously taken. More work can be found here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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