Tag Archives: small town

Faces in Siouxland, Tulip Festival, Orange City

23 May

As many times as I return to the Tulip Festival in Orange City I am always seeing new and more faces. The entire community is involved in a effort to keep the town’s Dutch Heritage alive  and join in the celebration whether dancing traditional folk pieces, performing in various productions or parading through the streets. One always gets a Midwest welcome from smiling faces and people who genuinely seem to enjoy their 3-day holiday.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And most of the time entire families are involved in the celebration. I have met and chatted with people that are now adults who remember their childhood participating in children’s activities associated with the parade. And the adults’s parents recall their participation. And now it’s the adult’s children who participate while the adults have moved on to adult enterprises associated with the festival.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The costumes worn by the residents representing various cultures within the Dutch heritage whether fisherman, cheese makers, farmers, it gives the visitor a glimpse into the past and a little bit of knowledge of where the ancestors of these people hail from. Plus, the food is not bad. And sweets. Did I mention coffee? It’s just a nice day to enjoy a celebration.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Celebrating Dutch History in Siouxland, Orange City

19 May

This weekend is the annual Tulip Festival in Siouxland in Orange City. The small community celebrates its Dutch heritage with locals dressing in costume and performing traditional dancing, street cleaning and a parade of all things Dutch. It’s a three-day celebration. And it’s always fun, even if the weather doesn’t always cooperate. This year it is wet and cool, well maybe cold. Temperatures for some days are expected to be in the low 50’s. Chilly if you can’t wear a coat over your costume. However, for a photographer it gives one the chance to shoot a little differently.

Flowers are part of the parade of costumes exploring traditional Dutch dress of various regions at the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have been photographing the event for a few years now. And so with a little change in weather it gives me an opportunity to photograph the event a little differently.The overcast sky makes it easier to shoot without harsh shadows and colors seem to pop a bit more, although the tulips seem to be suffering a little with such a cold, wet spring.

A cold wet spring has left blooming tulips a little less spectacular than previous years although a good resting spot for a fly at the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are so many different facets of the festival that sometimes the choices can kind of keep a person from shooting at all, or not paying enough attention as you flit from scene to scene trying to capture it all.

Town youngsters perform one of several Dutch dances during the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And this year I spent some time chatting and having coffee inside with a former colleague out of the cool weather which means I need to go back one more day since I missed the parade. But what a nice way to spend a day. Seeing people enjoy themselves despite the inclement weather, and if it’s too cold or wet, there’s always another cup of coffee inside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Changing Scenery in Siouxland, Alton

3 Jan

While shooting an assignment in Alton, Iowa recently I noticed a grain elevator being demolished. In all of the small towns in Siouxland I have visited one can always find grain elevators. It is part of the agricultural landscape of the area and usually an anchor to the downtown area. Farmers are dependent on the local grain elevators where they deliver their harvested crops which begins a food chain cycle. And a lot of beginnings start in Iowa, a mainstay of agriculture.

So to see a grain elevator come down seems out of place and gives me pause. Not knowing the history, or possibly the fact that another one may takes its place that is more modern I can not say. But because these instruments of business loom large over small towns local landscape, it is hard to miss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The demolition of the Midwest Farmers Coop in Alton, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The demolition of the Midwest Farmers Coop in Alton, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Scenes in Siouxland, Whiting

22 Aug

Some scenes I come upon can be generic in a way. They could be photographed in many places in the U.S. and possibly even Europe. Simple scenes, like doors and flowers. Shapes and texture. Something I try to impart on students when teaching photography. Always be looking and have a camera. Cell phones work in a pinch. But the moments pass, fleeting, never to be the same again. But even isolated scenes in a small Northwest Iowa town can be universal, it just depends on how one sees it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature in Siouxland, Pierson

20 May

While out aimlessly driving one day I drove into Pierson, Iowa. Another small, Iowa town. As I was beginning to look around I drove over to a park and explored a baseball/softball complex. One will find a lot of these in smaller towns. The ball field nestled into a corner of the town, usually next to a park. The local high school team and others playing there during the summer months. But what caught my eye was reading the bulletin board at the complex, and then noticing tucked up against the glass case was a robin nesting three eggs. I tried to walk slowly by without disturbing the bird, but it flew off. To a nearby tree from where it looked down on me and kept up its diversion chirping. All the while I was hoping the eggs hatch soon and the little ones and mom can fly away to a safer place, before the baseball season starts which is generally around May. I haven’t been back and am still hoping all went well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland, Oto

1 Apr

With spring intermittently coming and going this March, it is nice to get out again and explore this area of Iowa known as Siouxland. During a recent excursion I actually stopped in the small community of Oto, Iowa, and walked about a bit. Many times I have driven through or passed it by on my way to somewhere else. It is very small, and like many other small communities in Iowa Oto’s past beginnings are probably vastly different than its current present day situation. Some stately buildings and the small community nestled against some hillsides and the Little Sioux River. It looks like a quiet community, but that is hard to tell at times when one is passing through and only stops during the day.

As warmer weather ensues, it will be nice to again explore Northwest Iowa, or Siouxland, and find some other hidden gems in plain sight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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