Drake Hokanson, author of The Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America, has a new book out: Purebred and Homegrown: America’s County Fairs. He and co-author Carol Kratz (his wife of 29 years) traveled 40,000 miles across America, visiting 90 county fairs in 35 states. By day they interviewed and photographed; at night they camped among the carnies and the teens who were showing sheep, under the roller coaster and next to the chicken barn. They look beyond the stereotype of giant pumpkin contests to see county fairs as an 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 perhaps the most traditional of all American celebrations.
The 13 chapters feature 93 contemporary color photographs (done on 35mm Kodachrome transparencies) plus 23 historical images.
Hokanson is also the author of Reflecting a Prairie Town, and with Kratz is co-editor of America from the Air: An Aviator’s Story (Johns Hopkins University Press). He is Associate Professor in Mass Communication at Winona State University in Minnesota; Carol is a Physician Assistant in family medicine.