Tag Archives: small towns

Nothing Exotic in Siouxland, Persia

30 Jul

It’s always fun coming across communities with names that is associated with a different visual landscape. I visited Vail, Iowa a year or so ago, and as expected it didn’t look anything like its more famous Coloradan counterpart.

Recently I came upon the town of Persia, Iowa and seeing its name was curious if there were any similarities to 1001 Nights fairytale.

An early Iowa settlement is Persia, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community has about 300 residents and like most Iowan communities was founded in the the 1880’s when railroads were making a push through the area headed west. Some online searching didn’t help me find the reason for the community’s name, although I stumbled upon another gentleman’s query into the small community sometime in the late 1990’s. He was from Iran and driving cross country and stopped in to ask about the community’s name and its beginning.

A small compact place, I found a few people out and about while in the downtown area before I left and continued my sojourn to Highway 30 and another community I wanted to visit before heading home. So many places and so much history, but sometimes finding it is not always easy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Finding more History in Siouxland, Algona

28 Jul

On a trip to eastern Siouxland I stopped in the community of Algona. It was surprising to find so much history in a small area and I didn’t have the time to do it all justice and will need to return. I came upon a small museum concerning WWII concentration camps in Iowa that I previously wrote about. The community also has a county historical museum that has many, many items detailing its past.

The Historical Museum Kossuth County in Algona, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The couple there the day I stopped by were helpful and insightful about the community’s past pointing out a variety of items all of which I wish I had more time the day I visited. But that just gives a person the impetus to visit again and spend the time learning about an area near where they live.

As the saying goes, “It’s always good to know where you have been so one knows where you are going.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring southern Siouxland, Missouri Valley

26 Jul

I like driving about in Siouxland as I look for places to visit that I have not been to before, and the southern part of the area is a place I need to explore some more. Recently I stopped into Missouri Valley and walked about. It is nestled next to the Loess Hills region of Siouxland which draws a number of visitors throughout the year as it is only one two places on the entire planet, the other being in China, that has these particular earth formations called loess soil.

It was an extremely hot day that I picked to visit but sometimes one just has to make the best of it. The downtown area and main drag is actually the Lincoln Highway or Rte. 30 that passes through. The area retains some of its earlier historical feel with covered walks and brick sidewalks. Part of the community sits on a hill and looks out over the Loess Hills area and gives a bit more dramatic presentation. Sunset would be a perfect time to take in those views and maybe fall a better season to explore the area on foot a bit more.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland, Woodbine

20 Jul

Earlier this summer I drive to a small community in southern Siouxland called Woodbine. A quaint little town with a very vibrant looking downtown. A resident told me the town was part of Main Street America program which helps downtown areas in smaller communities regain their vibrancy and utilize their past historical essence and spur economic growth.

The buildings downtown sparkled with fresh paint and sidewalk art.

Downtown Woodbine, Iowa with restored buildings Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sculpted pieces dot the “landscape” downtown in Woodbine, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community also sits on the historic Lincoln Hwy. or Route 30 that crossed the nation and was traveled by thousands before the advent of the interstate highway system. It is a nice community to stop and check out and enjoy the ambience of small town America. Seeing so many of Iowa’s smaller communities looking a bit sadder in parts of Iowa it was pleasant to find a community with support within to build a comeback and make their presence know.

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

Enjoying the Lake in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

12 Jul

Recently I took a drive up to West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park and spent the day walking about enjoying a cooler day. Temps were in the 60’s with a pretty good gusts coming off the lake.

Choppy waters in West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy cooler days than hotter ones personally, although some younger people bemoaned the fact they couldn’t soak up any sun, of which there was little that day. The water on the lake was also pretty choppy which figured into my plans for taking a tour on the Queen II, an excursion boat that spends about 1.5 hours on the lake giving the riders a bit of history. And the Queen in one of its iterations has been providing this service for decades.

The Queen II dock side in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped by the office to buy a ticket and heard a couple employees talking about the choppy water and the possibility the ship may not go out. I took that as more probability than not, so found myself a coffee shop for a cup and a snack. And while enjoying myself with a book I had brought along, The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux, I heard the Queen’s whistle blow and knew I had miscalculated. But, with an entertaining read, coffee and a scone I sacrificed. I later found a small art gallery, Summerwind Gallery, and had a nice chat with the proprietor, Roberta, who also paints and explained she is currently working with pastel as her medium of choice.

So I felt my day was still spent well. Not too hot, a bit of a walk, and some really nice artwork to check out. Some days go as planned and some days one makes up as the day progresses. Both types of days are good and I hope to enjoy a few more of them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating the 4th of July in Siouxland, Logan

10 Jul

This 4th of July I visited the community of Logan, Iowa.

This year the residents will be celebrating the 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial of their community which was incorporated in July of 1867. For a small town a number of people arrived early for spots along the parade route. I have photographed a number of July 4 parades having worked for various newspapers for over 25 years. I have always been struck by the fact that a number of people feel compelled to “dress up” to celebrate the 4th of July.

I always found it curious. Americans turn out for parades, in small towns or large. We are proud of our heritage and the sacrifices made to achieve the success of the nation we live in.

The Stars and Stripes leads the 4th of July parade during the celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I attended college in the 1970’s, and the Vietnam War or Police Action was winding down but still emotions were running high concerning America’s involvement and depending on which side of the fence one was seated on, viewpoints differed about what occurred. A particular story I remember hearing is that people were upset with others literally wrapping themselves in the flag, sitting on it, burning it and other acts many felt were seditious. People were serious about respecting the flag and giving it its due honor. Fly it high and proudly. That was it.

Now however, it’s okay for the patriotic consumerism. Olympic athletes wrap themselves in the flag, people sit on it if it happens to be a piece of clothing. It seems it is as patriotic to make a buck from the symbol of the American flag as it is to just run it up a flag pole and enjoy it there.

Young parade goers dressed in patriotic outfits at the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple prepare to leave after the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A woman in patriotic dress watches chilldren collect candy during the 4th of July parade and celebration in Logan, Iowa Tuesday, July 04, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is not for me to judge others about anything. Some may even misconstrue my stated observations here. It just seems that people are more comfortable about wearing their patriotism on their sleeve as it were than just celebrating its significance in a more revered manner. One finds flags large and small displayed in a variety of places which doesn’t necessarily disparage their reverence for our nation’s symbol.

Maybe this is the 21st century way of honoring our nation, but maybe I am old school and not quite so convinced that simply flying the flag high and paying it that respect is enough.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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