Purebred and Homegrown: America’s County Fairs

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9780299228248: Purebred and Homegrown: America’s County Fairs
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Visit America’s county fairs as they are vividly evoked through the images, stories, and voices of the people who make them happen—4-H kids, fair managers, pie judges, farmers and ranchers, rodeo queens, entertainers, food vendors, midway pitchmen, and assorted local characters. Illustrated throughout with stunning color photographs, Purebred and Homegrown is an affectionate and thoughtful look at the history of county fairs, and their tradition and persistence today, despite the diminished number of Americans who earn their living from agriculture.            Author-photographers Drake Hokanson and Carol Kratz traveled 40,000 miles across America from Maine to Alaska, from Georgia to California, visiting ninety county fairs in thirty-five states. By day they interviewed, observed, and photographed; at night they camped among the carnies and the teens showing sheep, under the rollercoaster, and next to the chicken barn. The story they tell goes beyond the stereotype of fairs as quaint anachronisms obsessed with giant pumpkins and instead reveals the county fair as an important institution that helped define us as a nation of free-thinking, self-reliant, community-focused people. They present the nearly 200-year-old county fair as a fountainhead of American ideals and rural life, as a place of reunion, and as perhaps the most traditional of all American celebrations. Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

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About the Author:

Drake Hokanson is the author of the popular book Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America. He is the director of the Center for Mississippi River Studies at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. Carol Kratz is a physician assistant at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. They are co-editors of America from the Air: An Aviator’s Story and live in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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“It’s dark now, but the glare of the fair blots out any stars. Bare yellow bulbs sway in the night breeze; judges bend, intent on contestants’ breads, embroidered aprons, cucumbers, country crafts, blurry snapshots of the barn cat. All across the grounds are sad tattoos and hopeful faces, chance reunions; a 4-H chicken dinner in your stomach, cow pie on your shoe, the taste of dust, the squall of animals, farm kids and town kids, summer night air with a breath of endless possibility, of endless summer; everywhere rich icons of old rural ways, of country life; a sense of pride for the neglected agricultural center of things, a firm hold on tradition, a sense of what’s best about us all, and a sense of coming change: the county fair.”—excerpt from Purebred and Homegrown

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9780299228200: Purebred and Homegrown: America's County Fairs

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ISBN 10:  0299228207 ISBN 13:  9780299228200
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
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