Fairgoers expect to be entertained. And over the decades, many world-class acts have performed at the State Fair. But before they can perform, they have to be booked. Negotiations are necessary to set the compensation and contract terms. Between Grammy nominated artists and musical groups, unique animal routines (waltzing lions), electrical performances or death-defying acts, State Fair managers have hard decisions to make. Their choices can make the difference between crowds of happy fairgoers and pools of red ink for the fair. Showcased here are some of the hundreds of inquiries annually sent to the State Fair. Which acts would you choose?
Stunt riders each straddle two horses as they jump a Buick convertible. The daring team was part of the Hendricks Family Act that vied for an entertainment spot at the 1950 State Fair. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records)
A member of Jimmy Martin's Hell Show and Congress of Death Dodgers is run over by a 2.5 ton truck with "only the protection of his bathing trunks." The image is part of 1948 promotional literature designed to secure bookings at state fairs and other similar venues. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records) View entire promotional flyer.
Hypnotist Fred C. Schneider creates a "human bridge" with a show girl during his act. The image is from a circa 1950 promotional flyer sent to the State Fair. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records) View entire promotional flyer.
This image from the 1956 State Fair records shows vehicles playing Moto-Polo with a gigantic ball. The sport, a bizarre variation on polo with horses, featured head-on crashes, cars flying into the air and multiple rollovers. Not for the faint of heart! (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records) View entire promotional flyer.
The Ice-Arama ice skating troupe poses for a publicity shot. The group offered to bring a mix of "comedy, rhythm, variety, color, action, music and beauty" to the 1956 State Fair. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Photos) View entire promotional publication.
Boys climb on an M-4 tank on display at the 1949 State Fair. (Oregon State Archives, Oregon Fair Exposition Center)