Hobo Convention

Hobo Convention

One week in mid-August
The small, rural town of Britt, Iowa (population 2,000), seems an unlikely location for a convention of hobos—the unwashed but colorful riders of America's empty boxcars—but for a week each summer its residents play host to this diminishing segment of the population. From across the nation the hobos come to Britt, where they receive free food, sleeping accommodations in empty boxcars, and the adoration of more than 20,000 visitors who want to find out what a hobo's life is really like.
There is a parade, an arts fair, carnival rides, races, and music. But the real action centers on the hobo camp set up by festival organizers on the outskirts of town, where visitors can hear the life stories of these men who have chosen to travel the country unencumbered by family or property.
The hobos are quick to distinguish themselves from tramps and bums. As one explains, "A hobo wants to wander, but he always works for his meals ... a tramp wanders, but never does any work; a bum just drinks and wanders." The first Hobo Convention was held in Britt in 1900, and during the 1930s the event attracted hundreds of hobos. But their ranks are thinning, and today the town is lucky if 30 or 40 real hobos show up.
CONTACTS:
Britt Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 63
Britt, IA 50423
641-843-3867
www.brittchamberofcommerce.com
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References in periodicals archive ?
His accounts are unconventional at the least; from attending a hobo convention in Iowa to his search for James Thurber's spirit in Columbus, OH and his entry to the forbidden Cuba on a cultural exchange program.
We attended the Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa one year and I purchased a piece at their fund raising auction, created by a hobo from Missouri.