By Darrell Hamlin on June 17, 2008
Reviewing a book ten years after publication is usually too late, but for Blue Ribbons and Burlesque: A Book of Country Fairs, by Charles Fish (Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press, 1998.), it seems early still. Wanting somehow to capture the “magic” of the New England country fairs of his boyhood, Fish took photographs in 1969 and 1970 that remained as negatives in his attic for twenty-five years. Fish’s black and white photography provides “visible reminders” of a past that is almost entirely extinct as it once existed, yet the images allow the author to conjure the spectacle of animals, food, rides, strippers, freaks, machines and crowds – ritual elements of community that make the fairs nothing less than “a time of year, almost a season.”
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