“From the Vault” The New York State Fair’s Ka-Noo-No Karnival

Just in time for the 2019 New York State Fair, the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) has launched a new From the Vault display featuring a succinct look at the Ka-Noo-No Karnival of the early 20th century.

The Ka-Noo-No Karnival dates back to 1905. At that time, the New York State Fair was losing guests and money, forcing the State Fair Commission to consider moving the fair to another city in New York.

Local businessmen put together a plan to expand the fair’s entertainment into the evening with elaborate pageants, decorated floats, a royal court, and Native American themes to encourage fairgoers to extend their visits to multiple days and spend more time and money at the fair. With much planning, effort, and investment these local citizens rallied the local community and successfully boosted the fair through enhanced visitor attraction.  The 11 Ka-Noo-No Karnivals, held between 1905 and 1917, established a profitable and lively New York State Fair that helped to ensure the fair remained in Syracuse.

OHA’s latest From the Vault display, Mardi Gras of the New York State Fair, recounts the story behind this flamboyant extravaganza that laid the foundation for the highly successful New York State Fair of today.  Through photographs and labels, visitors to OHA’s museum will catch a glimpse of the Ka-Noo-No Karnival and its gaudy and well-meaning approach to saving and improving the New York State Fair.  Come see the floats, kings and queens, and “Wigwam of Happiness” that was emblematic to the Ka-Noo-No Karnival in the early 20thcentury.  The display also features a colorful domino costume worn by Clarence W. Wood to Ka-Noo-No Karnival meeting and promotional events.