Midway at the Oasis
Midway, Neshoba County Fair, Philadelphia, Mississippi, 1990. Image courtesy of the artist and 20x200.com
The Neshoba County Fair is different from the county fairs we have in the Midwest. It has most of the things you usually find: livestock judging, a beauty pageant, horse racing and a midway. The unusual thing is that it has over 600 one- and two-story cabins, called fairhouses, arranged into streets and neighborhoods on the fairgrounds. People own these cabins and live in them for the seven days of the fair. They are highly prized, handed down from one generation to the next. For the visitor, it gives the place a strange feeling: you are not sure if you're in a public or private space. When I was there I remember feeling I’d come upon some extravagant neighborhood block party that it was obvious — at least to me — was from another block.
The question of being on the inside or outside of a group is something I believe most photographers think about. Do we photograph the familiar or the exotic? Are we reporters or memoirists? If I went back there this July, 20 years later, what pictures would I take?