“‘Seasonal’ describes Green River through a cycle of time. Built around the river for which it is named, the shifting of the sun brings a renewal of it’s unusually lush foliage each year. And as the leaves fall into autumn, so does the town. The fields of melon crops go to seed and are milled for the next season’s planting. Its people take refuge, finding warmth from the fire and family around them. Main Street, where the majority of businesses lie, slows to a trickle that is not far from the frequency that the sun shines its rays upon the cold ground. Only trucks pulling out of West Winds from their overnight stay and a few locals pass by. The coffee shop seldom opens, OK Anderson park is deserted and the hotel parking lots stay lined with dirty ice from dustings of snow. It reminds me of the heat of summer, the retreat that I feel. That time of day when the outdoors are unbearable in the blasting desert sun: the swamp cooler can’t soothe you quite so much, so all you can do is jump in the river. But just as the ice melts and the coffee shop parking lot is lined with morning patrons again, so does the relief from the summer heat bring Melon Days. The park bustles with people from all over, here to celebrate the glorious melon industry of Green River, having showed up the night before to line Main Street for the parade. A Melon Queen is named and another season comes to a close.
This project began within the model of the Epicenter’s Frontier Fellowship. As one of the first Frontier Fellows, I wanted to document the town as an outsider. In this process and under the guidance of my hosts, I became focused on the flow of business in the town. You see, there are two exits from Interstate 70 you can use to access the town of Green River. Both exits are lined with big corporate businesses: Burger King, Arby’s, Shell, Chevron, you have it. In the middle, miles from each of these points, lies the actual town where locals reside. Here you have the local coffee shop, the burger joint, the diner, the franchise of Ace Hardware: isolated from the flow of traffic. From this focus, I began to a wonder about a larger pattern of commerce and activity throughout the year in Green River. I became obsessed with swamp coolers and started talking with my hosts more and more about other times of the year in Green River. And so, I began to return to Green River at different times of the year to see these changes.
‘Seasonal’ could possibly be shot anywhere to tell this story of summer to winter in a rural town, but throughout my years traveling and photographing, I’ve never been to another town quite like Green River, Utah.” —Miles Mattison