The magazine of the photo-essay
November 2017 issue
‘Til the Cows Come Home:Country Fair Portraits
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
by Dan Nelken
County Fairs have been part of the American way of life for more than 160 years and have existed because of the family farmers that choose to participate in the agricultural arena of these fairs. Yet, as family farms disappear at the rate of hundreds per month, family-based farming is struggling to retain its relevancy in rural farming communities and hold on to it’s disappearing cultural lifestyle. My objective was to capture the essence of this lifestyle through portraits of the participants, as well as the fruits of their year long labor. Every summer since 1998, from July to Sep tember I sought out these three to ten day events hoping to document in portraits and still life’s, an agricultural tradition that may be in its sunset years. Aware that others have looked through a lens at similar subject matter, I did not want to beautify the experience or trivialize it through sentimentality. My love of irony, of circumstance, and of the candor of the moment, guided my
photographic journey. I hope that when county fair participants look at these photographs they can say to themselves, “Yes, this is truly how it is.”
Half naked.
Sisters.
Resting.
Keeping it clean.
Nori with her prize hen.
Back to cage.
One day old.
Couples.
Competitors.
Showmanship.
The finalists.
Toddler beauty contest.
Dairy contest.
Blue ribbon dairy.
Grand champion.
They both won.
Beauty pageant.
Admiring the beauty queen.
Cow pillow.
Lunch.
Plant competition.
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