July 20, 1973: Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., the Jackson Five, Myron Floren, members of “The Lawrence Welk Show,” Mac Davis, Helen Ruddy and Buck Owens.
What could have brought all these superstars to the area? The inaugural Pocono State Fair at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond.
The fair opened Friday, July 20, and ran until Sunday, July 29, with one of the aforementioned stars performing each night. Entertainment was organized by promoters Roy Marchetti and Bob Curtis.
Comedy legend Hope performed the first night of the fair. Hope took to the stage before 8,000 people at the fairgrounds at around 9 p.m. For 65 minutes, he had the crowd laughing with his topical comedy, poking fun at the news of the day, politicians and his celebrity friends. His show also featured “Bob’s Brigade of Beauties,” featuring young women modeling fashions from the Globe Store in Scranton. Kathy Munnell of Tafton and Debbie Chapman of Lake Ariel were two local women who participated in the fashion show.
Toward the end of Hope’s time on stage, he was honored by U.S. Rep. Dan Flood and the Professional News Media Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania for his visit to the area following the floods from Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Eileen Fulton, star of CBS soap opera “As the World Turns,” warmed up the crowd before Hope’s performance. The following night, the Jackson Five sang and danced across the fair’s stage.
During a latter night of the event’s run, Sammy Davis Jr. took Pocono State Fair by storm. It is estimated that Davis performed before a crowd of 15,000 on July 27. Singer Freda Payne opened for the Rat Pack star.
Rounding out the fair’s performances was “Hee Haw” star Buck Owens on July 28.
On the final day of the fair, the entertainment came in the form of racecars during the ACME 500, a United States Auto Club race. Capturing the checkered flag that Sunday afternoon was none other than racing legend Richard Petty.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast