– American Festivals Project

A wonderful photographer and friend of mine Ross McDermott and his friend Matthew Burris are in the midst of a fantastic cross-country documentary project. Partially funded by a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, the pair are criss-crossing the United States to photograph America’s small-town festivals.

The aim of their project is to “discover a rich diversity of culture that has in part remained hidden.” Festivals as varied as the Hairy Chest, Legs, Beard Contest in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Middle of Nowhere celebration in Ainsworth, Nebraska, will be included in their journey. Needless to say, most people have never been exposed to these festivals.

The pair took off around Sept. 6 in their veggie truck hauling their modified Airstream trailer (with a darkroom, of course!), and headed for the MudBowl championships in North Conway, New Hampshire. Their progress is constantly updated on their blog, featuring beautiful photographs and enchanting stories. The latest festival they attended was the Red Hat Society convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As I mentioned before, the project is partially funded by National Geographic and the rest by print pre-sales. An 8×10 is $100 and an 11×17 is $200. You pay for a print now, then, as Ross and Matthew continue across the country, you choose which photograph you want printed. I believe you can choose from every image they shoot during the journey, which seems like a great deal! I hope, if you are able, you will support them by purchasing a print. If nothing else, send them an e-mail of encouragement!

The collection so far looks outstanding and I’ve heard rumors that a book might be in the works (only rumor so far). For now, the blog will keep us updated. Check it out today and tag along on their journey.