Winter Carnival in a Western Town
Lisa Gabbert
6x9, 272 pages

Published: 2011

ISBN 978-0-87421-829-9
cloth $31.95

ISBN 978-0-87421-830-5
e-book $25.95

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Lisa Gabbert is associate professor in the English Department at Utah State University, associate director of the Folklore Program, and a member of the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society. She is interested in landscape and place, festivity and play, and medical folklore. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two daughters.

Winter Carnival in a
Western Town

Identity, Change, and the Good of the Community

Lisa Gabbert

Well written; without recourse to jargon, and always at a comfortable pace, the author takes us into the heart of McCall's winter festival yet always returns to key questions: how does community take shape or fragment around festive activity? How does festival respond to changing social environments?
—John H. McDowell, author of Poetry and Violence: The Ballad of Mexico's Costa Chica

A first rate ethnographic study . . . Whereas other folklorists have scrutinized festival in relation to cultural and social systems, Lisa Gabbert offers the first fully developed study of festival in relation to work and place. Her contribution is distinguished by its engagement with environment, the industrialized backwoods, winter, and tourism in the American West.
—James P. Leary, editor of Journal of American Folklore

Held annually, the McCall, Idaho, Winter Carnival has become a modern tradition. A festival and celebration, it is also a source of community income and opportunity for shared community effort; a chance to display the town attractively to outsiders and to define and assert McCall's identity; and consequently, a source of disagreement among citizens over what their community is, how it should be presented, and what the carnival means.

Though rooted in the broad traditions of community festival, annual civic events, often sponsored by chambers of commerce, such as that in McCall, are as much expressions of popular culture and local commerce as of older traditions. Yet they become dynamic, newer community traditions, with artistic, informal, and social meanings and practices that make them forms of folklore as well as commoditized culture. Winter Carnival is the first volume in a new Utah State University Press series titled Ritual, Festival, and Celebration and edited by folklorist Jack Santino.

Book Review Journal of Folklore Research March 26, 2012 / Gregory Hansen

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