National Geographic : 2009 Jul
• INSIDE GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO: JOEL SARTORE Clad in his signature red tie, socks, and sneakers, Garrison Keillor reports from a racetrack near Iowa's State Fair grandstand. ON ASSIGNMENT Carnival Connoisseur Garrison Keillor's mellifluous voice is practically as American as apple pie. Since 1974 he's been telling stories from the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon every Saturday on his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. This month Keillor chronicles the goings-on at a place that does exist, if only for a short time: the great American state fair. He hit several of these "ritual carnivals" last summer, but he remembers the day this photo was taken at the Iowa fair particu- larly well. It was shortly after his 66th birthday, and he'd just made a friend in the dressing room. "Senator Tom Harkin and his wife came and visited me there, and he ironed my shirt," he says. Keillor was busy shaving when the Iowa senator explained to him that as a child he had learned to "iron a good shirt." Keillor hosted a live perfor- mance of his radio show that evening and recalls the ideal setting: "An Iowa crowd on a warm summer night, who've eaten some ice cream and a pork chop on a stick---no better audience in the world. There isn't much you can do to put a dent in their day."