The 2019 San Juan County Fair theme is A Wheel in Time: Cultivating Roots.
With her heart and mind filled with a love of history, illustration and mystery Jessie McDonald took on the task of solving the riddle of the theme through illustration.
“I have a love affair with small county fairs and all of the history, community and magic that they bring to those who visit,” McDonald said. “From the rides and events all lit and garishly painted, to the animals, carnival food, local art and the history that is apparent in all of the exhibits and the meeting of old friends and new, how one would not fall in love.”
McDonald was selected by the San Juan County Fair Board to be this year’s county fair poster artist. The San Juan County Fair is Aug. 14–17.
McDonald’s interpretation of the 2019 theme captures this year’s historical theme, and the circles — or wheels — that connect us to each other through farming and agriculture; arts and crafts; local food and culture; and our pastimes.
In winter 2018, McDonald began on a series of paintings exploring her love of carnivals and fairs. This, initial series, was noticed by a fellow artist who encouraged McDonald to inquire about being the fair’s poster artist. This was the starting point for a study in wheels — the Ferris wheel in particular.
As the theme continued to percolate, the roots began to take shape, linking the depth of our islands’ history and the San Juan County Fair. Research progressed, and Jim Crook became a focus. It was Crook’s sheep farming and machine building — the famous carding machine to process wool — that McDonald discovered the wheels of creativity and progress that still held true to present day island activity and small sheep farming, and the bigger creative process that is still in play on the islands.
It was with all this in mind that McDonald truly understood how a wheel in time carries the past into our present-day. Where it beautifully cultivates roots that to this day brings us joy and beauty at the San Juan County Fair.
Prints of the poster are available to business owners to hang in their stores or offices and are also available by donation to the public before and during the fair in the administration office. Contact San Juan County Fairgrounds at 360-378-4310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a poster.