Minnesota Historical Society

Minnesota County Fairs

$ 24.95


Kids, Cows, Carnies, and Chow

Photographer Susan Lambert Miller, Foreword by Shannon Olson

Minnesota Historical Society Press (July 1, 2009)

"It's a blustery November day, and I’m thumbing through Susan Miller’s county fair photos, and suddenly—it’s summer. the sun is baking my shoulders, and I’m eating my annula corn dog. I can smell French fries and hay, I can hear kids squealing with delight as they’re flung around on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Flipping through these pages, the best days of the season come back to me.”—Shannon Olson


Ninety-five county fairs are held through Minnesota every year, and Susan Lambert Miller has attended nearly every one of them. Camera in hand, she often visited multiple fairs in a weekend–sometimes more than one a day. And just a taste of what she found at these Minnesota get-togethers appears here in delightful, dazzling photographs.

The heart of a Minnesota county fair beats in the 4-H buildings, with their displays of bumper crops or beautiful animals or creative activities. Fairs bring neighbors together, to play bingo, to applaud a bluegrass performance, to explore the frights and delights of the midway. Food plays a significant role, whether hawked from a booth or artfully arranged for competition. Carnies beckon for games and prizes. The loudspeaker blares with announcements of livestock judging or the next "main event."

These summer festivals offer a feast for the senses, with countless ways to take it all in. Miller's photographs display a feast of sorts as well, a view of Minnesota's quintessential character, introduced by Shannon Olson's meditation on our fairgoer selves. Step right up: see rooster bingo, smell sizzling pork chops, hear bumper car horns. In Minnesota County Fairs, summer fun is always at its peak.

Author information

Susan Lambert Miller is a nationally recognized photographer specializing in architectural views and a fair fanatic who has earned the nickname "carny" from her children. She is also the author of State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Shannon Olson is the author of Welcome to My Planet: Where English Is Sometimes Spoken.

  • 128 pages
  • 152 color photos
  • 9 x 8 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873517195

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