About the Book
The Fair in Neshoba County, Mississippi, is not a typical county or state fair. It is a campground fair, which indicates it is an event during which the majority of participants reside on Fair property for the duration of the event in cabins that have been passed down from generation to generation. Specifically, within the 60-acre fairgrounds, much of which is occupied by the race track, midway and parking, thousands of people come together for eight days to occupy over 600 cabins and 200 RVs.
The group in each space is composed of genetic and legal relations accompanied by a variety of other friends and neighbors, and most remain for the entire Fair. The reality of the phenomena really is mind boggling. Yet, since 1889, Fair goers have reconvened every year, except 1942 – 1945, and proudly proclaim the number of years they have been in attendance.
It is for this reason “Very Close and Personal” was selected as the title of this book. Literally, without the “personal” nature of the Fair the “very close” aspect would never work. By twenty-first century standards, people are just too close to other people, and people are too close to Fair events. Yet the interpersonal proximity appears to continue to work for the Fair in Neshoba County.
This photo essay is not presented as a comprehensive documentary of the fair. As the subtitle implies, the focus of the essay is the individuals who participated in the Fair. An attempt was made to photograph as many different activities as possible but all could not be photographed. Likewise, the faces featured within the pages represent only a small fraction of the population.
After a twenty-five-year career in social psychology documenting some of the most disturbing behaviors in children and youth, I studied photography and began pursuit of a second career in fine art and documentary photography toward the goal of documenting brighter aspects of the nature of being human. My primary goal relates to capturing the wonderment of individuality as manifested in family-related activities, diverse social events and pursuits of personal passions. Of particular interest are unpretentious persons with gentle spirits and otherwise unnoticed individuals. I also am attracted to ironic juxtapositions in modern society and simple wonders of the natural world.