State Fair Flashback 1977: The Cinesphere! Johnny Cash and Andy Williams! And the governor of New York gets kicked by a cow!


There won’t be any New York State Fair this year.

To stop us from next year’s extravaganza, we thought it would be fun to go through our archives and check out fair coverage for the past 50 years.

In this episode of “State-appropriate flashback” we remember the 1977 fair, the year the governor of New York had a fateful encounter with the cow Bessie.

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A fateful meeting with Bessie and New York Governor Hugh Carey at the New York State Fair on September 1, 1970. Syracuse Post-StandardSyracuse Post Standard

The New York Governor’s annual visit to the State Fair is an annual tradition that gives the state leader the opportunity to meet and greet his constituents at the Empire State’s largest event.

But sometimes they don’t go according to plan.

Perhaps the most humorous gubernatorial visit was on September 1, 1977, when Governor Hugh Carey toured the fairgrounds.

His visit seemed almost cursed from the start.

On the way from New York City to Syracuse, Carey’s plane was hit by severe thunderstorms that delayed its arrival until after 3 p.m.

He entered the fairgrounds in style and was driven to the site in an old Packard that had once been used by Franklin Roosevelt. He was accompanied by four of his 14 children.

Carey had a great time at the show despite another round of “great” thunderstorms.

“This is the largest fair in the country!” He announced.

He sipped Matt’s beer, attended a seniors reception at the Art and Home Center, wished good luck to participants in the AAU New York State Amateur Boxing Championship later that night, and had an “I Love NY” pin attached to his jacket from Miss New York.

(His original itinerary called for him to visit the popular new Cinesphere, which showed a 12-minute film about New York State on a 180-degree screen, and meet with grandstand actor Johnny Cash that evening. But it appears that the governor’s belated visit is likely they have canceled.)

Carey was about to leave the exhibition grounds when he entered a cow milking competition. Someone asked if he would like to participate.

The governor agreed “good-naturedly”.

When Carey approached a cow named Bessie, it was possible that he knew what was coming.

“Has anyone notified the cow that I’m coming,” he joked.

1977 State Fair

Down for the count … but still the winner. Governor Hugh Carey raises his arm in triumph after being named Syracuse Post-Standard Milking Contest WinnerSyracuse Post Standard

Luther Bliven of the Post-Standard wrote what happened next:

“Apparently they did because she was ready for him. He sat down and the cow, annoyed by the photographers, fell or kicked, and the governor went backwards to the floor, with a milk pail in one direction, a milk stool in the other, and a surprised governor in another direction.

Carey quickly jumped to his feet and quipped, “That’s a Republican cow. It tries to kick me. “

(Later, at the Governor’s Dinner at the Syracuse Hotel, he told a reporter that the cow’s name was Warren, a shot at Senate Majority Leader Warren Anderson who “set foot on several of Carey’s bills” during the previous Albany legislature session .)

To Carey’s credit, he was ready to give another chance to milking a cow.

But this time his attempt was stopped when “nature” called out for a nervous Bessie.

On the third attempt, the governor was finally able to successfully milk a cow.

His arms were raised in triumph after someone taped a ribbon on his jacket for the winner of the milking competition.

Do you remember Governor Hugh Carey’s visit to the State Fair? Have you seen the Cineshpere, Johnny Cash, Captain and Tennille, Andy Williams, or a poor dog named “Freckles” been operated on? Do you remember when the fair opened with a parade through downtown Syracuse?

1977 State Fair

Governor Hugh Carey receives an “I Love New York” from Miss New York at the State Fair on September 1, 1977. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 press photo of man with sons at the New York State Fair

Governor Hugh Carey has a Utica “Matts” beer with some of his sons. Photo taken during the governor’s visit to the New York State Fair on September 1, 1977. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Governor Hugh Carey wishes many amateur boxers the best of luck prior to their September 1, 1977 State Fair bout. Post standardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

The lettermen, “a little hairier than their haircut days but just as soft as ever,” entertained an audience of 3,000 in the stands during the 1977 State Fair. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Johnny Cash at the 1977 New York State Fair. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Johnny Cash duets with his daughter Roseann during his concert in the State Fair grandstand while 7,500 fans watched. Photo taken September 1, 1977. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Recording artist and television star Andy Williams delighted the grandstand audience with his theme song “Moon River” during the 1977 State Fair.

1977 State Fair

Salt City 6 at the State Fair Syracuse Post-Standard 1977Syracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Captain and Tennille perform at the 1977 New York State Fair. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Crowd in front of Cinesphere at the State Fair 1977 State Fair Director Tom Young described the Cinesphere as a “huge film production” in which a huge 180-degree screen “wraps” around the audience. It offered such a real-life experience that Young predicted that viewers would hold onto guide rails as they watch the screen guide them at over 160 mph through the skyscrapers of New York City, Song Mountain and Letchworth Gorge .Syracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Spectators twist their necks behind the big camera while previewing the 1977 show’s most popular innovation, the Cinesphere. On the opening day, the sunlight through improperly sealed windows affected the image on the screen. Exhibition director Thomas Young ordered the film to be stopped until the situation was corrected. Then someone mentioned the size of the crowd, dollars in hand, waiting to see the film. Young ordered the film to continue WHILE the changes were being made.

1977 State Fair

Long lines form for the cinesphere, which was housed in the east wing of the Center of Progress Building. Tickets were $ 1 for adults and 50 cents for children. It was the show’s biggest attraction that year, grossing between $ 50,000 and $ 60,000.

1977 State Fair

Kim Stevenson and Joyce Rudolph of Syracuse have fun taking a ride at the New York State Fair Syracuse Post-Standard 1977Syracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Tracey Clisson hands out meat samples in the dairy building during the 1977 Syracuse Post-Standard State FairSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Karen Gubman – gets a fudge sample from Susan Pataranick of the Dutchland Candy Company at the Center of Progress during the 1977 Syracuse Post-Standard State FairSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Freckles are brought to the recovery area after the spraying operation is completed. L to R technicians Lisa Caughey and Dr. Fred Holmes. The photo was taken at the State Fair Syracuse Post-Standard in 1977Syracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

There was a long line to ride the Ferris wheel at the 1977 New York State Fair. Photo by David Lassman, Aug. 30, 1977

1977 State Fair

A crowd of about 400 job seekers at the 1977 New York State Fair gathered outside the employment office at the main gate of the fairgrounds this morning. Most of the jobs at the fair are for waiters, waitresses, clerks, and workers who work on stands.

1977 State Fair

The two-man submarine, designed by Allen Karpinski of Auburn as an industrial art project, met with great interest at the 1977 State Fair. There is still water to be tested. Syracuse Post StandardSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

There used to be a parade of State Fair attractions through the heart of downtown Syracuse to open this year’s event. This 1977 photo shows an elephant marching past Clinton Square.Syracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Barker Terry Church offers a prize at her center softball throwing stand during the 1977 NYS Fair. Photo by John Dowling, 1977

1977 State Fair

This giant map of New York was in the Center of Progress building during the 1977 Syracuse Post-Standard State FairSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Yo-yo Ride at the 1977 Syracuse Post Standard State FairSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Cameron Allen, age 6, and sister Carmeya Allen of Croley Street enjoy a rainy day at the Syracuse Post Standard State FairSyracuse Post Standard

1977 State Fair

Guests slosh through the rain on a rainy day at the 1977 New York State Fair.Syracuse Post Standard

Continue reading

Check out all of our State Fair Flashback Photo Compilations

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Discover CNY

Central New York is one of the most affordable places to live in America, with a tradition of career opportunities, exciting outdoor entertainment and recreation, and an excellent quality of life. Learn more at The Good Life Central New York.

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This feature is part of CNY Nostalgia, a section about syracuse.com. Send your ideas and curiosities to Johnathan Croyle at [email protected] or call 315-427-3958.

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