We are pleased to introduce State Fair, a new traveling exhibition created by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin, presented in partnership with Humanities Texas.

State Fair is a visual distillation of photojournalist Arthur Grace's odyssey through fairs in ten states—California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. Time and again, regardless of geographical location, Grace's images deftly capture the strange mixture of the traditional, the kitsch, and the off-the-wall that is unique to these annual gatherings, which began as a celebration of rural American life and have evolved into super-sized extravaganzas.

Whether the photographs show the beaming pride of 4-H egg champions, the intensity of a tattooed arm wrestler, or a forlorn alligator waiting to be "wrestled" in a wading pool, the authenticity of Grace's imagery is unmistakable. You can almost hear the shouts from the midway, smell the animals in the barns, and taste the cherry pie.

Sure to bring back vivid memories for anyone who has ever attended a state fair, and bound to entice the uninitiated, State Fair reminds us how much we still crave real experiences beyond the fantasies we see on our computer, TV, and movie screens. It shows that, far from being an anachronism in the twenty-first century, state fairs are a vital, living tradition throughout America.

State Fair is a wall-hanging exhibition that features thirty-six framed and matted black-and-white photographs by Arthur Grace and is now available for rental through the Humanities Texas traveling exhibitions program. Learn more about reserving State Fair for your community.

North Carolina State Fair (Raleigh) by Arthur Grace, 2003. Riders get a bird's-eye view of fairgrounds on the Wave Swinger. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
State Fair of Texas (Dallas) by Arthur Grace, 2004. Standing fifty-two feet tall and wearing a seventy-five-gallon cowboy hat, "Big Tex" greets visitors to the fairgrounds. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.