Fair Weather

_C1_9367A county fair is an annual melding of two worlds.

The first world is one of goats and droppings and wood chips, and it arrives with the morning. Kids and teenagers give early mornings and months of time to bring animals to full form or strength. They wash their pigs or steers or rabbits, scrub them, preen them, brush them, trim them, spray them and heave them through the crowd, no matter how cantankerous the animals get. They win ribbons and pride and thousand-dollar bids and think about things like how and whether to grow food for a living.










_C1_0525The second world is one of summer jobs and suburbs and supermarkets, and it arrives in the evening. The kids are less familiar with livestock and feed but still have their share of early mornings. Instead of a competition, the county fair is a blur of lights and excitement. The kids win stuffed monkeys and balloons and toys and think about things like how expensive the food is.

The county fair brings in both worlds. Inside the livestock arena, the rapid-fire rhythm of the auctioneer’s voice floats above the chatter of people and bleats of goats. Outside, the air thrums with screams and laughter and bass-heavy music. Somewhere among the funnel-cake stands and Ferris wheels, the worlds, to an extent, overlap.










I went to the Washington County Fair four times last week — twice for work, twice for fun. I hope the images turned out all right. I took a whole lot of photos this week, so I’ve got another post coming up quickly for you.

Thanks for looking!


A Line Down the Block

_C1_9167Fayetteville’s City Hall is packed tonight as hundreds of people line up to give their opinions on a civil rights proposal that has stoked controversy for weeks.

The situation essentially is this: It’s not explicitly illegal to fire or evict someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Arkansas (and most other states). The ordinance would change this in Fayetteville by treating sexuality and gender identity as a protected class, like race or religion. You can sue someone who doesn’t hire you because of your race, for example. Many people, in Fayetteville and elsewhere, oppose protecting LGBT people in this way.

Fayetteville’s City Council unsuccessfully tried to pass a similar ordinance back in 1998; tonight, the council is trying again. At previous meetings on the topic, comments from the public have been overwhelmingly against the new protections, with many people calling it an attack on religious freedom. Tonight, the crowd appears to be more even, with supporters of the ordinance in red and opponents in blue or purple.



_C1_9199Inside, the council chambers are so packed that the line stretches down the block to the town square — I went on my own after work, so I didn’t even attempt entering. As soon as someone leaves the city building, someone else takes his or her place. It’s as exciting as city meetings get, and my colleague Joel Walsh will be covering it through the night as every person in line gets a chance to speak.



We likely won’t know how it turns out until very late this evening or sometime tomorrow morning.

Thanks for looking,


UPDATE: The ordinance passed 6-2, but its future is definitely up in the air. Several candidates for City Council this November are running specifically in opposition to the ordinance. Signatures from only 4,100 people, or one in 20 Fayetteville residents, are needed to bring the ordinance up to a public referendum. Stay tuned.


_C1_9076It’s one week until school starts at the University of Arkansas (and the University of Nebraska, I’ll add), which in my mind means two things: Panhellenic recruitment and band camp. I couldn’t find any wandering musicians today, but I saw a few other things.







_C1_9105Sometime in the near future I plan to focus on more intimate photos, maybe portraits, which means more talking with people. I’ve done this kind of shot for the blog before, but I’m more used to doing it during work, for some specific goal or assignment. The excuse of my job has always made walking up to people easier for me, basically. It’s worth talking to people outside my job, too.

Always something to work on.

Thanks for looking,


Cooled Off

_C1_9017Today started unusually steamy and reached about 90 degrees, but it took only about 20 minutes to change that in the afternoon, when temperatures fell 20 degrees, the wind picked up and the storm rolled in.

I should’ve seen it coming, really. The most humid days always seem to bring a storm — I remember one August day in Nebraska where it dropped from an oppressively humid 96 to about 62 in less than half an hour. You can bet you’re in for a good time when that happens.

This storm happened to hit right as I arrived at Tontitown’s Grape Festival, an annual carnival of food and rides named for the town’s vineyards, planted by the town’s Italian founders a century ago. I didn’t get to ride anything, but I did get to feel the excitement and energy as rides closed down and people ran for cover._C1_8975



_C1_8994The carnival workers had the unenviable job of making sure the stands and prizes didn’t blow away, though this guy seemed to keep in good spirits.



_C1_9043It was a fun 20 minutes! We’ll have to try this again sometime, Tontitown.

Thanks for looking,