Thursday, February 9, 2012

One last shot: FSA photographer Russell Lee and the 1940 Pie City Fair

I wanted to share one last batch of Farm Security Administration (FSA) photos shot by Russell Lee. These were shot during a free community BBQ at the Pie Town (NM) Fair in 1940.

As a photojournalism student at the University of Missouri in the early 1980s, I was exposed to his work along with fellow FSA staffers including Dorthea Lange, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans and Walker Evans. Outside of Life magazine in its heyday, this has to be the most talented photo staff ever assembled. Their documentation of the Great Depression gives us an irreplaceable visual record of the struggles and triumphs of the American people during that time.

Each of Mr. Lee's photos from the fair capture and preserve a moment in time as a small community of homesteaders copes with the end of the depression.  These images bring humanity to the forefront as Pie Town residents gather together to share stories, friendship and a barbecue dinner.
Such is the power of photojournalism, but I would also argue that such is the power of barbecue.

Click here to read more about Russell Lee's journey to Pie Town in Smithsonian magazine.
Friends meeting at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair
Grace was said before the barbeque was served at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair
Serving pinto beans at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair barbeque
Getting ready to serve the barbeque dinner at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair
Homesteader feeding his daughter at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair free barbeque
Homesteader and his children eating barbeque at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair
Crowd eating free barbeque dinner at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair
Men of the community of Pie Town, New Mexico eating at the barbeque
Main Street, Pie Town, New Mexico.


  1. Wow realy kool pictures, I live 60 miles south of pie town, the pie festival is awesome every year!

  2. These are great photos. Thanks for putting them out. I once drove between Quemada and Magdalena about 35 years ago and the area was pretty remote then. I must have driven through Pie Town but since it was night I completely missed it.