Fair-weather reading abundant at library—September 3, 2010
Step right up to your public library to experience the fun of the state fair long after it ends, Sept 6. From the lively midway to the pungent livestock barns, a variety of blue ribbon reads will take you to the fair, without ever compromising the dignity of the sole of your shoes!
See one of Nebraska’s largest sows at 1,000 pounds in “Bright Lights and Blue Ribbons, 125 years of the Nebraska State Fair.” This is a wonderful showcase of stories and photos from Nebraska’s first 125 years of hosting state fairs.
“Before there was a state there was a fair,“ said the author, Betty Stevens, a former Lincoln Journal-Star reporter. Stevens notes that the first Territorial and Mechanical Fair was held in 1859 in Nebraska City when Nebraska was still a territory. It also was the first territorial fair in the nation.
Its location was bounced a number of times among Brownville, Lincoln and Omaha before the 1901 Legislature authorized the purchase of a permanent site “within three miles of the state Capitol,” she said.
Other state fairs around the country are featured in “The American State Fair” by award winning author and historian Derek Nelson. With well-researched detail and more than 200 photographs and illustrations that include tractor square dances and side show curiosities, Nelson takes a humorous and nostalgic look at what he calls “an American icon,” the state fair.
The state fair also is the backdrop for a number of fictional works, the most famous by Phil Stong. Stong's 1932 novel, “State Fair” is the basis for the popular musical of the same name. The plot follows the adventures of the Frake family at the Iowa State Fair in the late 1920s.
Hastings Public Library has on DVD, both the 1945 Rodger and Hammerstein’s beloved musical and the 1962 remake that features Ann-Margret and Pat Boone. The two movies check out together in a 60th anniversary edition.
Framed by the sights and sounds of a western state fair, the latest novel by Earlene Fowler is a light-hearted mystery that takes a perceptive look at racial issues. Just released in May, “State Fair” is Fowler’s 14th in her Benni Harper mystery series. In this one, the theft of a story quilt leads to a cold-blooded murder. Reviewers have said that Fowler’s whodunit is as much fun to visit as a county fair.
A charming chapter entitled “State Fair” is tucked inside Garrison Keillor’s “Leaving Home,” which is a collection of 36 of his Lake Wobegon monologues from his “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show. The monologues are slices of everyday, ordinary life, told with extraordinary humor and poignancy. The library has copies in regular and large print.
Revisit the state fair with a book from Hastings Public Library.