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Hoodlock

Would You Believe?

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Would you believe a Monkey Speedway? A proposal was made to the fair for the Monkey Speedway (they were really chimpanzees). The chimps would be strapped into small racecars that were on a track and controlled by a backstage technician to give the appearance that the chimps were driving and racing each other. Philip Mayes stated to the fair, "I strongly suggest that you (the fair) stay away from it, at best it is a tawdry sideshow".

It gets better, how about SINA? The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. SINA devoted their time and energy to clothe all naked animals and they wanted space at the fair to promote "protection of our children from the sight of naked horses, cows, dogs and cats".

20th Century Fox wanted to bring Cleopatra's Barge to Meadow Lake and use it for a restaurant but couldn't figure a way to get it to the lake.

Then there was a proposal for the 'House of Little People' and one for a 'Bull Whip Performer.'

And here's one for Bill Young, Mr. George Vande Hei of Rural Route 1, West De Pere, Wisconsin wanted to set up a freak show. The reply to Mr. Vande Hei was, "The Fair Corporation is not interested in freaks of any sort". Don't you just love Midwesterners?

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Those ideas were pretty wild but some of the attractions in the amusement zone of the 39/40 Fair were at about the same level. So those would-be exhibitors weren't that far off.

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One of the most popular exhibits at every world's fair from the Pan American Exposition in 1901 to the two world's fairs in 1939-49 (NY and SF) was the Infant Incubator. It was an exhibit which housed premature infants in incubators. Amusement areas at the big fairs were popularized by Chicago's Midway Plaisance in 1893. I don't know if they raise or lower the tone of any fair, but they are popular and leave indelible memories including the Ferris Wheel in 1893, Dreamland in 1901, the Parachute Jump and The Dream of Venus (by Salvador Dali) in 1939,and La Ronde in 1967. In fact, while the 1939 NYWF had lofty ideals, it was the amusement enhanced 1940 version of the Fair that actually allowed the second season to turn a small operating profit. People enjoy the amusements of a fair and I submit that these attractions tell us as much about the time period, the manner in which one culture viewed another and the values of the era in which a particular fair was held as any of the so-called more intellectual presentations.

[This message has been edited by Jim (edited 08-29-2001).]

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Hey! I used to work with a Van de Hei who was originally from the Green Bay area where De Pere is a suburb. I wonder ....

Racing Monkeys? Every year at the Wisconsin State Fair, we have our racing pigs. It's a fact. But, they have to run on their own four legs like a horse race which is much less dramatic than the monkey concept!

Ya gotta love us Midwesterners.

Bill

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