Sheep, Chicks and Geese Scurry at the County Fair- page 13 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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(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


Afton County Fair 2005
(Maura McCarthy)

Afton County Fair 2005

To prepare for tending their animals at fair time, a lot of farmers set up tables, refrigerators, trucks and tents near the stalls. According to Nelken, some even bring televisions. “It’s another example of the surreal environment where you are eating, sleeping, and there are your livestock right next to you.”

Nelken says that when he came across this tableau, he was “just praying that the people don’t show up and I have to explain myself, but it worked out. I could not have topped this if I tried.”

This summer will be Nelken’s last making the rounds of Upstate New York fairs; he has sold his country home. Up next: a similar project on demolition derbies.

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