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Articles by John McCracken

John McCracken is a journalist who focuses mainly on agriculture, climate change, and industrial pollution. A former Midwest Reporting Fellow for Grist, he won a 2022 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award. He lives in Wisconsin and can be found online most everywhere @jmcjmc451.

Featured Article

The parade wouldn’t start for another hour, but Rosemary Fulton was already bundled in her folding chair on an unseasonably cool Sunday in August, right there on Main Street in the small town of Marissa, Illinois.

She wasn’t alone. Other residents were starting to set up their own folding chairs and coolers on either side of Main Street. A shiny banner a few blocks down announced the celebration: Marissa’s Annual Coal Festival, colloquially known as Coal Fest.  

Fulton, 81, had parked herself in front of the village hall, the name of its original occupant still carved in stone on the side: First National Bank. 

There was a time, Fulton said, when she couldn’t walk down Main Street without seeing multiple friends and neighbors going about their business. The town was livelier, she said, and that was because of coal. 

Longtime Marissa resident Rosemary Fulton is seated early at the annual Marissa Coal Festival parade. Virginia Harold

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