Life at the fair is a lot of work and responsibility for the kids and young adults in 4H or FFA. Chores need to be done such as caring for the livestock, keeping the stalls clean, and working with their animals to prepare for showing. Once the judging starts, the animals will need to be cleaned and prepped before they show in front of the judges. Of course they also needed to help set up the barns before the fair is opened to the public and will take it all back down before they leave. It isn’t all hard work though, as there will be time to enjoy some of the fair food, rides, and hanging out with their friends and “fair families”. A fair family is a term I heard a lot around the barns, describing all the families who participate in the agricultural area at the fair. They work hard and are proud to be a part of this culture.
In 2016 at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, I was able to follow seven 4H/FFA members around throughout the day and captured their lives at the fair. After years of documenting the fair, I have gained the trust to be accepted into their daily activities here. This acceptance allowed me to work closely with the parents and their children Levi, Emily, Jessica, Anna, another Emily, Jamie and Julia. Show after show they had to get ready for, all different show classes for their hogs and cattle. I loved the steers, as I enjoyed seeing all of their energy and slight aggressiveness. In between showings, chores had to be done but afterwards there was usually a little time for them to hangout with friends or take a quick nap in the sultering barns. The big livestock auction was the main event on Thursday evening and was something everyone worked hard to get ready for. It was the hardest part of the week for me watching the kids sell their steers and hogs to the highest bidders after all the work and love they put into them. Friday morning was the continuation of preparing and showing their other livestock including dairy cows.
Watching the interactions between their friends and their animals was something I really focused my camera on. Every evening after the livestock judging was done and the fair goers walking through had left, the barns grew quiet. I enjoyed this time equally, watching as the “fair families” all started to gather into small groups and talked amongst themselves while kids played games into the night. I truly enjoy being a part of this year after year.
Travis Dewitz is a remarkable photographer in the Chippewa Valley. He is well known for photographing local sceneries, landmarks, venues, buildings and people in various and ingenious ways. Though you may not know him personally, his work provides a unique foundation of our local community and his photographs are unmistakable. Dewitz’s pictures are an impressive feat and preserve a moment; long after our travels are over, and our memories faded, photos are what remind us of the adventures we had and the connections to the people we met. Learn More About Him Here | Buy His Book Here
Like and Share With Your Friends and Family.