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Winter Carnival in a Western Town

Identity, Change, and the Good of the Community

by Lisa Gabbert

Hardcover Price $21.95
Ebook Price $18.95
30-day ebook rental price $8.50

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Ritual, Festival, and Celebration Series

"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."
Journal of American Folklore

"As an ethnographic study, Winter Carnival in a Western Town provides an informed look at a seasonal resort community. It provides unique historical and sociological insights into not only the community, but also the social construction of frivolity and its role in shaping individual and community behaviors. This well-written inquiry bridges the social sciences and folklore and is both scholarly and entertaining."

Studies in Popular Culture


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.


Journal of Folklore Research 
Daily Kos 
George Mason University's 2014 Fall for the Book Festival Selection



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.

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  • Hardcover Price: $21.95
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-87421-829-9
  • Ebook Price: $18.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $8.50
  • EISBN: 978-0-87421-830-5
  • Publication Year: 2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Lisa Gabbert
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87421-829-9
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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