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.
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.
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?
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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