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Midweek Matinee: State Fair Days, 1951

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All photos are frame grabs from video below.

Our Summer Destinations Series continues with yet another plug for painstakingly detailing your automotive pride and joy, then loading up the crew and driving some place surprisingly fun and really dusty. This the New York State Fair, Harry S. Truman-era edition, with a cameo by hizzonor NY Governor Thomas Dewey.


What self-respecting fairground flick doesn’t lead off with harness racing…


…and the latest in farm machinery and implements?


But there’s plenty for the entire family to see, from agriculture, livestock and horticulture to homemaking, sewing and fashion. Not to mention those daring and risqué midway sideshows. This is doubtless the genesis of the phrase “Well, gee, hon, there’s so much to see here, why don’t we, ah, split up and meet at the Ferris wheel in, say, an hour? Or two?”




Saving the best for (the) last (day): a 100-mile AAA-sanctioned National Championship auto race on the dirt track drew major crowds of spectators – many of whom were afforded an up-close-and-personal opportunity to experience a face-full of dust, fumes and oil. How they didn’t all end up in a pile on the track is a miracle.

For those wishing to leap right into the race action, jump to the 7:00-minute mark: but you’ll miss the beauty pageant, cows and kitchen appliances.


And, a final evening show of fiery driving stunts.

After the show, load up on cotton candy, funnel cakes, orange soda and peanuts to enjoy on the drive home. Not to worry: Everyone promises to stop by first thing tomorrow morning to help clean the car.

Public domain archival footage courtesy of the Internet Moving Images Archive, in association with Prelinger Archives.