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The Missouri State Fair: Images of a Midwestern Tradition

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The Missouri State Fair: Images of a Midwestern Tradition by Gaskell, Richard, 9780826212733
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  • ISBN: 9780826212733 | 0826212735
  • Cover: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 6/1/2000
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For more than a century, state fairs have been one of the few places where farm families gather in large numbers to proudly display their animals, to celebrate familiar rituals, to be entertained or horrified by freak shows and circus performers, and to discover the wonders of new technologies. With over one hundred compelling images and a fascinating introduction,The Missouri State Fairprovides a poignant look at that world-a world that has nearly disappeared from rural America. Richard Gaskell first visited the Missouri State Fair in 1968 while serving as a VISTA volunteer in Boonville, Missouri. Completely captivated, he vowed to return to the fair and photograph the people and events associated with it. Although it was not until 1986 that he was able to keep that promise, he has made the long trip from New England to Missouri every year since then to photograph sights that can be found only at the state fair, capturing dramatic images that say more than any written words could. In his introductory essay, Gaskell describes the fair's heritage-both historically and through interviews with the fair's contemporary participants. He also offers a personal reflection on the importance of the Missouri State Fair and its significance to the thousands of participants who have been attending year after year. His compelling and vivid images range from taut-muscled draft horses straining against their harnesses to belly dancers; from six year olds lost in thought with arms around their prizewinning sheep to the leathery faces of old-timers, keen-eyed yet wistful. In the expressions of the boys and girls and men and women who show their animals, Gaskell has masterfully captured all the promise, hope, and uncertainty that comes with participating in the diverse events at the Missouri State Fair. An air of innocence and freshness can be found in the faces of the children, while many of the adult faces reflect both the struggles and the gentleness associated with farm people. The Missouri State Fairchronicles more than a decade in the life of a historic American tradition. Through his evocative and compassionate portraits, Richard Gaskell provides a link between the state's rural past and its present, paying tribute to farmers and their animals-the real life and breath of a state fair's existence.

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