Tag Archives: northwestern iowa

In Siouxland, politics is not for the faint of heart

11 Sep

Earlier this year I visited the city of Royal, Iowa, towards the eastern edge of Siouxland to meet a woman who in her 80’s decided to run for the position of mayor in her town of roughly 400 people in 2012. Florence “Fluff” Ihry won that election.  An active community member her entire life, Ihry explained that she was reluctant, even when asked by a number of people to run for mayor and to continue to help her community in a way she never expected. A two year term, Ihry is again running for the position of mayor at the age of 85.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cat napping in Siouxland

23 Jun

Recently as the weather keeps bouncing between wet and somewhat dry days, there are times when it is actually pleasant in Siouxland. This weekend was one such day. It rained early Saturday into late morning, then stopped, and the day became nicer, less humidity, although dampish. And that was when my feline friends and a neighbor of theirs decided to to enjoy the day, or the rest of it anyway.


Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Siouxland’s Rainy Farmers Market, Sioux City

22 Jun

The first official day of summer brought the typical Iowa summer weather with it, hot, muggy with high humidity, and plants stressing from no moisture. A lot of promise, but the weather people were not delivering. This year has been nothing if not unusual in the weather department. Snow falling in early May and seven days later, temperatures hitting the 100 degree mark. But today, Saturday, June 22, 2013, the weather has changed. It’s raining. The better part of yesterday watering my plants didn’t happen in vain, but, I could have saved a few dollars.

It seems though the vendors at the farmers market in Sioux City are not catching that good weather break. Today and last week the rain dampened the normally enthusiastic crowd. I find the wet weather doesn’t dampen (pun intended) my enthusiasm, but eating breakfast there can certainly be soggy. But one has to admit, the food couldn’t be any fresher with just a quick rinse before the buyer takes it home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland’s Morning Light, Sioux City

17 Jun

Waking up early can sometimes be a challenge. The first cup of coffee can help, the aroma gets the senses going, and then stepping outside and hearing the birds and their chatter. But it’s seeing the first light of day that inspires me, as the sun spreads its glow across the sky in Siouxland. I am not always awake enough and quick enough to capture this light. Sometimes it takes a concerted effort because so much is going on as the day starts. But morning light has its own special quality, no matter where you find it. And if nothing else, enjoy it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Kitchen roses Morning Light Morning Light

Siouxland history through murals, Rock Rapids

15 Jun

Every Siouxland community has a history. Rock Rapids, Iowa, is no different, except that its history can be seen as you wander around the streets of this northwest Iowa town,  presented on buildings.

Some murals are smallish and painted on small boards costing around $800.00 while others are large, covering an entire wall with costs close to $18,000.00.

But not even the largest mural compares with the smile seen on Rock Rapids Mural board member Norma Jansma’s face when she talks about them. Jansma said the mural project began in 2002 with a group of towns people wanting something depicting the history of the community. Right now there are 26 murals telling the story of this place located in Lyon County. And all but six of the murals have been privately funded.

A recorded history says the area was surveyed in 1848 by Jefferson Davis and eventually a treaty was signed with the Sioux Indians giving the white man the chance to settle the area. History states the first white man to settle in Rock Rapids was someone only known as “Old Tom”. A Mr. James Gilman surveyed the town itself in 1872, which was platted in 1874 and incorporated in 1885.

The murals depict various personalities and events that affected the town such as a well respected doctor who delivered more babies in his lifetime than the town’s number of residents, the cost of war, the town’s volunteer fire department, a soda fountain and other “pioneering” personages. Jansma said a variety of artists have painted the different murals. Some of which are painted on the buildings themselves while others are painted on boards and attached to the buildings. One was even repainted, “The Ladies of the Night”, which Jansma said turned the heads of visitors from Sioux Center. The original was attached to a building which burned down, and it was decided that even the more salient part of the town’s history should be told, and another location was found to put up the replacement.

Two more murals are planned for the near future, one during the summer of this year, 2013, and another, #28, planned for the spring of 2014. And Jansma said she hopes this history lesson will continue to remind everyone of where they have been and maybe help direct them to where they are going.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring Weather wet and cloudy in Siouxland, Rural Sioux County

8 Jun

The weather this year in Siouxland has been at best, unpredictable. Snow in May, although that I understand is not unusual. Then it got extremely warm during the “normal” spring months, with temperatures in the 90’s, that is unusual, although not unheard of by some of an elderly generation.I took a drive up into Sioux County this past week, checking out a couple of items that I will write about later. It was a pleasant drive up, white puffy clouds with blue sky. But around Sioux Center, that changed, as the weather was unpredictable the further north I traveled. But it made for some nice images.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Memorial Day at Floyd Cemetery, Sioux City

28 May

I have lived in Sioux City now almost 12 years. And have attended a number of Memorial Day ceremonies at the Floyd Cemetery in town performed by local American Legion posts and the Marine League and the women counterparts to each of these. The Floyd Cemetery ceremony was not always well attended, but it was always very intimate, with the few people there to honor to those who fought for their country and those who died. Gravestones mark the burials of men who fought in the Civil War, and later. So it was sad to find out Monday morning that the Floyd Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony was not to be, but instead a ceremony would be held at Graceland Cemetery. A larger place, more room for more flags and people, but missing would be the feeling of those long ago warriors, ghosts, who could be standing or sitting in the shade of the older trees at the Floyd Cemetery, receiving their due in heartfelt tributes, and watching the proceedings knowing they had done well.

But in recent years, the American Legion Posts and other organizations have been suffering a decline in membership, something I will address in a later musing, having talked with various members of the local Posts over the last few years.

But this doesn’t mean to diminish the tribute given to those brave men and women who serve and did serve which took place at Graceland Cemetery. I am just thinking that maybe Floyd Cemetery’s Memorial Day service received its own Taps Monday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland’s Ingemann Danish Church and Memorial Day, Moorhead

27 May

I recently learned that once a year, a church in the Loess Hills of Siouxland holds a Sunday service on the day prior to Memorial Day. The Bethesda Lutheran Church of Moorehead, Iowa, holds a Memorial Day service each year at the Ingemann Danish Lutheran Church. Pastor Carla Johnsen has been tending her flock for the past 12 years. Pastor Johnsen explained,” Every year we come out here (to the Ingemann Danish Lutheran Church) because this church is part of our roots. This was the original Danish church built here in the country.” She explained there was a divide over holy Danes and happy Danes and the church’s congregation split in two. “So we come back here every year to remember God’s faithfulness. That is part of our story, and generation after generation God has been faithful and continues to be to this day”, she said.

Pastor Johnsen said during her sermon that people should remember and celebrate their past, their history and remember those who came before. After service inside the church, the congregation comes outside, Taps is played, then a few American songs are song and the group then enjoys fellowship with one another by having coffee and cookies and other refreshments. The Ingemann Danish Church, built in 1884, was eventually listed on the National Historic Register of Places in 2012.

More photographs of the Memorial Day service and celebration can be found here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Tulip Festival, Orange City

19 May

Another year, another Tulip Festival in Orange City. Even though the weather wreaked havoc on the plants, the Siouxland festival itself, as always, is a delight. A good crowd and the friendly natives meant for a nice weekend outing.

More photographs can be found here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux CIty, Iowa

Siouxland’s Early Sunrise, Sioux City

15 May

To me there is nothing quite like the peace and quiet and beauty of an early morning sunrise in Siouxland as the sun lights up the sky and colors the clouds that are there. Once past the inertia of actually getting up and throwing some clothes on and making some coffee, to witness the start of the day is breathtaking. But the early morning colors are so fleeting, I almost feel sad sometimes that I am not quick enough or have a plan ahead of time of where to be to photograph something in the foreground of early morning light. This weekend will be the celebration of Morningside Days, the 61st version actually. And later this month will be Memorial Day celebrations here in Siouxland and across the nation remembering those who serve and those who sacrificed.

Have a nice morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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