Kinderhook photographer and resident Jamie Hankin, whose “Faces of the Fair” is the theme of the 2018 Columbia County Fair, is creating a book of the thousands of photos he has taken over the last several years. Hankin’s photographs of the fair have been featured in brochures, advertising and promotional materials created by graphic designer Laura Aloisio of Dandelion Design. Hankin will be located near the new Information Booth at the 2018 Columbia County Fair which runs this year from Aug. 29 through Sept. 3, Labor Day.
“The images describe the diversity and growth of our neighborhood,” said Hankin of the project which he does not profit from financially. “The photos embody the joy and freedom of summer in the country and the importance and dedication of people of all types to the concepts of rural community life.” A prototype of the book will be on display. Hankin is raising funds to publish the book with a variety of levels of sponsorship available from postcard-sized prints to signed copies of the book and individual art prints suitable for framing. All funds donated in excess of the production and mailing costs of the project will be donated to the Columbia County Agricultural Society, the Columbia County Chapter of 4-H and to the Hudson Valley Chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. The campaign runs through Sept. 30. If the monetary goal is not reached, no money is collected and the book is not printed, explained Hankin.
Hankin, who has attended the fair for more than 30 years with his wife, Columbia County native Laura Bostick Hankin, originally presented his longtime idea to photograph fairgoers in 2014, taking more than 600 portraits under a photo tent he set up at the fairgrounds. The members of the nonprofit Columbia County Agricultural Society, which sponsors the fair, were enthusiastic about the idea and “brought the princesses and the firemen and the bands” around to be photographed, said Hankin. As a result, the fair board decided to use the “Faces of the Fair” as the theme for the fair.
“We had no advance publicity, my wife Laura and daughter Sarah just rounded up people, others were curious, no one could believe it was free,” he said of the project he had dreamed about doing for years. “The best thing about the fair is the people,” said Hankin, who gave each person he photographed an instant print of their picture as a thank you. Hankin is doing the photographs as a project of love, not for any profit and shares the usage of the pictures with the Agricultural Society for the benefit of the community.
“To me, the people are what make the fair interesting and exciting, the variety and the individuality and the joy all together,” said Hankin. “We are planning to make more images this year and hopefully now that the “Faces of the Fair” is the theme, more people will be interested in joining the mosaic of images that we are making.” One of the most memorable photos he took was one of four generations of a family, he said. Other favorites were children with their faces painted, parents with babies, a 4H volunteer and children with their animals. “It was cool to get them all together,” he said. “You really see a cross-section of America.”
The Kinderhook resident has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years, working in the retail, catalog and fashion industries shooting for clients such as J. Crew, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, L.L. Bean and more. While photography is Hankin’s profession, it is also his hobby. Other favorite side projects include a book on vintage racecars and a portrait project of Army Rangers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The 178th Columbia County Fair runs this year from Aug. 29 through Sept. 3 at the fairgrounds with vehicular entrances on Route 66 and pedestrian entrances on Route 203. In addition to Hankin’s photography project, highlights of the annual fair include midway rides by Amusements of America and the perennial showcase of Columbia County agriculture, contests, exhibits and demonstrations. More details may be found at www.columbiafair.com.