Tag Archives: small towns

Community of History in Siouxland, Granite

27 Sep

While visiting the Gitchie Manitou State Preserve earlier this summer I also stopped in the community of Granite.

A sign pokes a little at itself as a community that has more residents previously in Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s remaining residents have a sense of humor and have created a small town square to remember its local history, a community created with the coming of the railroad. And it seems the community is best known for its annual threshing bee held in July.

A sign outside of town advertises the THreshing Bee that takes place every summer in July at Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I brieftly talked with one resident, inquiring about his metal roof since I was looking at having my house’s roof replaced. He gave me a little overview of the community and its history.

Resident and contractor Gregg Beldin, left, speaks to another resident about a project she needs done in Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. Traffic congestion is not a problem and neither is standing in the roadway talking. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The pace is slow but the residents seem to enjoy that and the space they have surrounding them in this northernly portion of Iowa. The community erected a plaque detailing the history of community, its prominence during the early boom railroad days, which have tapered off like a lot of smaller communities that thrived when the railroads touched more rural lives.

A plaque which sits on a town square detail the history of Granite, Iowa, Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A plaque which sits on a town square detail the history of Granite, Iowa, Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It will be fun to revisit the small community during its two-day festival and see how difficult it will be to find parking and to see the place bustle with activity like it did in its early days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Small towns in Siouxland, Algona

25 Sep

Like many of the smaller, rural states, Iowa is made up of a lot of small communities. Algona is one such place. It though has a museum about World War II concentration camps located within Iowa which is a must see if traveling through the area. It’s downtown like many other Siouxland communities have buildings created in the early 1900’s when small communities thrived more with the advent of the railroad looking for stops as it advanced its march to the west.

And it’s still a thriving community of 5,200 people living there and making it home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer Fading in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

19 Sep

Summer has faded in Siouxland, with days growing shorter and the feel of fall creeping in. On a visit to the Iowa Lakes Region during the week, it became evident that fewer people were rummaging about and those there were enjoying those fading remnants of summer. Especially on a lake where everything revolves around the water.

The summer livin’ is easy in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer boating in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the fall’s crisp days and colder evenings begin to settle into the area, people can wistfully think about the languorous summer days and how they spent them and dream of the following year and what adventures might await them for their next trip to the lakes enjoying the moment away from cares and daydreaming of those summer days as children.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the waning days of summer in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lawn chairs on a dock in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

17 Sep

As I mentioned previously a number of communities have community celebrations toward the end of summer which then leads them into the fall season. Yankton, SD recently celebrated its Riverboat Days with a parade and art fair.

Color guard at the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most parades everything was patriotic. Flags were flying everywhere and for this particular parade I focused my photography on that aspect of it.

Antique cars drive through the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is nothing wrong in showing one’s allegiance through flying your country’s flag. I found it interesting how some parade participants accomplished that. It challenges one to carry a theme through a shoot sometimes, although I may have broken that theme by including a band’s cheer squad’s flags, but sometimes a little contrast is needed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Annual Festival closes out Siouxland Summer, Riverboat Days Yankton, SD

9 Sep

As the summer months draw to a close I always enjoy the end of the season festivals many smaller communities hold annually. One of those is Riverboat Days in Yankton, SD. Besides the parade through the downtown area, the park along the Missouri River is filled with arts and crafts booths, music venues and food booths. Packed into a small area, one can get lost wandering among the many attractions, which on a warm but breezy day is not a bad thing.

People browse the many art booths at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always a diversity in the artists participating as well as musicians performing and the food offered. It’s nice to grab a seat and replenish oneself after walking a bit and to stop and enjoy whatever music you happen by as well.

A cutout for the ultimate selfie for those budding artists at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Artwork from the whimsical to more serious and utilitarian pieces as well as wall art could be found at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When the festivals roll around one knows summer is coming to an end. But for me, I am ready for fall, probably my favorite season. Plus it’s nice to be able to wander and look at all the artwork people are producing as well as sit and enjoy the river flowing by, part of the roadway the Lewis and Clark and company followed. To sit and enjoy the end of a season and look forward to another beginning shortly.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing in inches or feet in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

30 Aug

Visually I can be a pretty darn opinionated individual, especially with myself. I see something and like it and then start photographing. When I worked for newspapers it became instinctual because moments changes scenes. What you saw 30 seconds or a minute or two ago is no longer there. I am trying to break that habit.

I no longer shoot for a newspaper on a daily basis. And the majority of my photographic interests are now more landscape, rural and urban, oriented. When I am concentrating on people I do just shoot and shoot when I see something. But with landscapes, I am trying to slow myself down and look and then photograph.

The campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in Vermillion, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I saw the image of the tower at the far end of the campus at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion on a recent visit I liked the trees and the spatiality. I liked the framing with the trees and the shadows in the foreground and the barely visible white tower peeking in the background. I shot a few frames. Then a walked maybe 10 steps and I realized maybe I  shot too soon.

The campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in Vermillion, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I liked this framing better, the use of more shadow in the foreground forcing the eye up to the bright gleaming towers, now that one can see more than one. To me it seems a stronger photograph. I have gotten better at turning 360 though when I am out walking. See a scene behind me as well as the one I walking toward. Sometimes it is easy to miss an opportunity depending on how shadows fall and what is around you.

But I still struggle with placing my subjects, whatever they may be, within my frame. I like the various placement treatment I might give a building or person or whatever. They may all be a nice image, but that is part of the process of seeing and then defining what you see and distilling it down to what you what your viewer to see.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Small Towns in Siouxland, West Bend

26 Aug

A recent stop in the small community of West Bend in Siouxland yielded a pleasant surprise. The town has roughly 750 residents and is home to a local Sioux City Diocese shrine, The Grotto of the Redemption.

A woman views the Stations of the Cross along a walkway at the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most other small Iowa communities it has agriculture as an economic anchor among other small town businesses.

Like a lot of small rural Iowa communities, a grain elevator anchors part of the downtown area in West Bend, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)But mostly its draw and claim to fame is the Grotto of which many people visit yearly, looking for inspiration and a sense of spiritual well being, something that lately seems to be in short supply from watching world and national events.

People enter the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stations of the Cross at the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Inside the church of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Catholic church which stands next to the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A place to drop in and “tune out” the outside world even if only for a couple of hours does a world of good for an individual. And after walking through the structures photographs do not really do justice to this creation of one man’s dream as a way station in life for those looking for a refuge even if only momentarily.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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