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Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer Day: Portraits from the 1943 State Fair

Just what does a typical Nebraska farmer look like? That's what Omaha radio station KFAB wanted to find out in 1943. The station teamed up with the Macdonald photo studio of Lincoln on a "Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer" contest at the Nebraska State Fair. Each contestant stood before Macdonald's camera and received a free copy of the portrait for his trouble.

The photographs of about thirty of the nearly one hundred farmers who participated in the contest were on exhibit at the Nebraska State Historical Society's headquarters building, 15th & R Streets, Lincoln. The portraits provide a fascinating look at Nebraska farmers of all ages in the middle of World War II, dressed in everything from double-breasted suits to overalls.

So who was the typical-looking Nebraska farmer? The contest winner is unknown, but you could cast your ballot as part of the exhibit. The winner of the new version of the contest was announced when the exhibit ended, and one lucky voter won a Nebraska State Historical Society tote bag. Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer Day: Portraits from the 1943 State Fair ran through 2002.

Photo of interior crowd shot with KFAB sign
During the 1943 Nebraska State Fair, KFAB broadcast a one-hour variety show daily from the fairgrounds auditorium. The show attracted large crowds. A sign at the back of the stage advertises the Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer contest.

Photo of J. H. Bryant, Carleton, Nebraska
J. H. Bryant, Carleton, Nebraska

Photo of R. J. Artist of Bennet, Nebraska
R. J. Artist of Bennet, Nebraska, wears Big Jack brand overalls. Notice the pencil in his chest pocket and the braided leather watch fob.

Other photos of the Nebraska State Fair


Nebraska History Museum



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Last updated 18 October 2002  

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