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

(Maura McCarthy)


Delaware County Fair 2002
(Maura McCarthy)

Delaware County Fair 2002

Photographer Dan Nelken started his career in the 1970s, shooting black-and-white essays for magazines, and later specialized in commercial work and portraiture for design firms and advertising agencies in New York City.

Nelken was born in Israel, but from childhood onward he lived in Toronto and Chicago. So he was a little surprised at himself when he bought a second home in 1990 in Delaware County, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. “The idea of a country house—it's amazing what you do for your loved ones,” Nelken says.

After a few years, a neighbor began to pressure him to visit the county fair to shoot the scenery. Nelken, having never been to a county fair before, put him off because he had things to do around the new house. But in 1998 he relented, and visited the Delaware County Fair.

“I was really blown away by the visuals of what I saw,” Nelken says. “I took a couple of rolls with my Hasselblad [camera] and decided that next year I would be there opening day.” And so he was.

Thus began a project that would become his first book: Till the Cows Come Home: County Fair Portraits.


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