Tag Archives: sioux center iowa

Celebrating Film in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University

27 Feb

Attendees watch one of the entries in a screening room prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s world, there is a proliferation of media. Video and stills. Everywhere. As a photographer, I somewhat thrive on seeing images and for the most part enjoy them. People’s tastes runs the gamut. Depending on one’s point of view there is “good” and “bad” art, video and photography. Individuals pursue what interests them and where their tastes lie.

Every year in Siouxland at Dordt Universtiy there has been a 48-hour film challenge, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. Individuals and teams come up with and create a film within the specified time period and then compete at this private Christian college in northwest Iowa. The films need to be family friendly but do push the boundary as each, as people are, have an individual opinion of what is friendly. And winners for this year’s competition just recently were announced.

One film crew entry pose on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films are produced by high school, college and post college individuals. All maybe reflecting a generational outlook through their individual films, and most certainly have a point of view and moral component to the pieces. Attending the awards ceremony (which is also live streamed to competing teams from around the country) held at the small university one can feel the excitement for these folk as much as directors, producers and actors attending the Oscars and receiving awards and recognition for their work.

Teammates for a film entry react after winning first place in their division during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Presenters react as they watch one attendee show off his Superman shirt under his street clothes mimicking a recurring theme for this year’s entries which involved superheroes during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Twenty-five teams made the final cut of the competition that were judged and then four films were selected for best of in three categories with a fourth winner judged best of show. It’s fun to watch these folk enthusiasm and see their creativity put to the test, or not. Prior to the awards ceremony the film are screened in rooms around campus for people to view a few of them before finding out the winner. It’s a fun night, except for the cold weather and sometimes snowy conditions, and a chance for people to begin an adventure in film that may continue or compete in a venue their find worthy of their own involvement with similar values. As with everything, you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Dordt University jazz band performs prior to the start of the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of a film crew ham it up on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An audience member dressed up as a bee patiently waits for the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Mark Volkers, left, and Bob Pollema, right, emcee at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 awards ceremony at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Finding Solitude in Siouxland, Dordt University Prairie, Sioux Center

28 Sep

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently found out about a small nature preserve in Siouxland just a few steps away from Dordt University, a Christian college that strives to help students realize faith in their lives is as important as well as preparing them to succeed in life through their academic endeavors. The Prairie is only steps away from the school’s campus and is a nice walk, although probably better on a cooler day than when I visited. I has the look of an earlier century prairies and is large enough that it affords a person some solitude and quiet within its confines, providing space for a person to sit, contemplate and unwind from daily activities and schedules.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the interior part of the prairie is a prayer garden where there are rock formations allowing a person to sit and seek spiritual guidance if one wants, or just sit and listen to the immediate surroundings be it the wind, crickets, cicadas or flies. All God’s creatures. It was a weekday morning so there wasn’t anyone else around and I wandered the grounds a bit enjoying what I came across and following a path until I came to the garden.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Students’ lives are busy enough and I remember my days in college and at times going into the school’s quadrangle at off peak hours to sit and listen to nature. With few people around the birds came alive and there were plenty of trees landscaping the area along with specie names and such to, of course, make it educational. And the small prairie is good for residents as well who also need that occasional down time away from the “white noise” that society and modern day living provides. A neighborhood abuts the prairie and a wide path makes it easy to traverse and enjoy a quick escape before “reentering” the world and again engaging life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Fall Harvest in Siouxland at the Heritage Village, Sioux Center

7 Oct

An annual event in Sioux Center is the Heritage Village Harvest Festival that celebrates early pioneer life in Siouxland. The Friday of that particular weekend local schools generally bring some of their school children to visit to see what life was like one or even two centuries ago without the modern convenience of grocery stores or indoor plumbing.

School children try their hand at pumping water during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Dave Schelhaas gets a young volunteer to help dig potatoes in the garden during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers dress up in period outfits and help to explain to the children and visitors alike the types of life and “appliances” previously used by settlers who first arrived in the immediate area in which the children live and the kind of life they encountered.

Visitors wait their turn to look inside a small sod house which was a normal dwelling during early pioneer days during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Gloria Hoekstra shows young students from a local school how butter is made during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children are rightfully amazed at how people lived decades ago and how much progress has been made. So many, even living within an agricultural area such as Iowa, have never been to a farm and their parents probably don’t have a garden. So a little dose of history and the understanding of so many things we take for granted today is beneficial to them and other visitors too. When I hear of people talking about “simpler” times I must consciously keep from rolling my eyes and asking which times? Before air conditioning or after it. And for whom. Not all people enjoyed the benefits of progress as they were first introduced and so I wonder how much simpler times were then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Looking for the Unexpected in Siouxland, Sioux Center

14 May

When I previously worked for newspapers as a staff photographer, I was always on the look out for the unexpected. Big and little things in life that seem out of the ordinary for the context in which you find it. While visiting Dordt College a bit ago with a class, we walked over to the small campus and was looking at the spring blossoming trees and sculpted art work that graces the campus grounds. And then, unexpectedly, I see a young woman “dumpster diving” a large trash bin. Dumpster diving has been around a few decades, as those less affluent in some parts of the country look for items that might be valuable to them while not valuable to the person who tossed the item into the trash.

It seemed a little out of place at this small Christian college, but then again, one man’s/woman’s trash is another’s treasure. The young woman explained she was looking for salvageable items she could use for next year’s term and unlike going through the trash in places like New York City or Los Angeles, these items were probably in a little better shape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Color in Siouxland, Heritage Village in Sioux Center

9 May

On my most recent outing with students in my Lifelong Learning class of Photo Safari we spent a good portion of the class at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center. It was a brilliant spring day and colors just seemed to pop everywhere one looked. The Heritage Village is a historical montage of area history with a sod house similar to what early settlers may have lived in, as well other stores like a leather maker, general dry goods store and a blacksmith shop. It was just a nice day to be outside, enjoying the spring weather and taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Sunshine in Siouxland, Heritage Village in Sioux Center

21 Feb

Like many parts of the U.S. recently, Siouxland had an unexpected warmup and it was nice to see sunshine again. The quality of light is sweet, hard and very defined. And it was just nice to be outside with a jacket and hat and not freezing too much to look for photos. Spring is approaching, and Mother Nature was really teasing this past week.

I took a trip up to Sioux Center and visited the Heritage Village. A historical replica of what could be found in the area during the early settler days and more recent, at least if one believes the 1940’s and 50’s are more recent. But it was just a nice day to enjoy and see the sunshine.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Sioux Center

5 Sep

Sioux Center, Iowa, is another Siouxland community that celebrated its quasquicentennial this summer, or its 125th anniversary. And there was again a parade. I enjoy small town parades, even though most are similar to one another. Most times Shriners participate, as do owners of antique tractors and the various businesses in the community and with these milestone anniversaries, generational families. A day when people get together and enjoy one another’s company, taking their minds off current events and celebrating what is good right at home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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