it’s not fair

For over a century and a half, county fairs have woven themselves into the fabric of Anatolian towns, becoming much more than just annual events—they’re living traditions. In my ongoing documentary project, I delve into the lives of those who make these fairs possible: the county fair workers.

This cultural legacy, handed down from fathers to sons, has stood the test of time, defining generations. Throughout the sweltering Anatolian summers, these workers, accompanied by their families, embark on a nomadic journey, pitching tents as they move from fair to fair, ensuring the continuation of their cherished tradition. Come winter, they retreat to settled areas, where they eke out a living through seasonal farming, trading scrap, and taking on temporary jobs.

Entertainment at these fairs transcends mere spectacle; it’s a heritage passed down through the ages within fair families. Yet, the lives of fair workers are anything but glamorous. Their days are spent on the roads, laboring over the setup and dismantling of equipment, embarking on nightly journeys to the next fairground, and waking to repeat the process-all amidst the harsh realities of survival.

A significant portion of their hard-earned income finds its way back to the fair owner as rent. Despite the financial strain, fair workers persevere, toiling tirelessly to meet their expenses, save for the lean winter months, and provide for their families. Yet, amidst the grind, there lies a glimmer of joy-a shared sense of camaraderie, the satisfaction of entertaining crowds, and the simple pleasures of making others happy. In this complex tapestry of hardship and happiness, the county fair workers find purpose and pride, embodying the timeless spirit of Anatolia’s vibrant traditions.

2023 - ongoing

“I have always felt that photography is a language for seeing and not for transforming, hiding, or modifying reality.”

– Luigi Ghirri –


I’m Cenk Erdoğan from Istanbul, Turkey.

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