Sheep, Chicks and Geese Scurry at the County Fair- page 5 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
(Maura McCarthy)

Sheep, Chicks and Geese Scurry at the County Fair

As photographer Dan Nelken has catalogued, the county fair is the place for family farms to showcase their prized livestock

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Delaware County Fair 2005
(Maura McCarthy)

Delaware County Fair 2005

Nelken learned from future farmers like Carl that the animals need human contact to remain calm. “I find it fascinating how comfortable and intimate [farmers] are with their cows,” says Nelken. “I have photographs of using them as pillows, kids lying on top of cows asleep. They will hug them. It’s like a pet dog.”

Scenes like the one above are common, according to Nelken. Cows require a lot of attention—frequent changes in hay, milking twice a day. Some farmers will catch a nap whenever they can. “These fairs last anywhere from three-four days to a week, and … you take care of your animals during that whole time period,” he says.

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