Bobby Vinton and Skitch Henderson at the Corn Palace Festival, 1967

1960s pop singer Bobby Vinton enjoys the 1967 Corn Palace Festival carnival on Main Street in Mitchell. (Daily Republic archive photo)

Mitchell’s Corn Palace Festival has changed a lot over the years. The headliner acts these days blow into town, do one show, collect a check for around $70,000, and leave immediately.

Back in 1967, the relationship between the entertainers and the festival was a lot more intimate. According to an August story from that year, headliner Jack Benny, along with tag-along acts Bobby Vinton and Skitch Henderson, presented 15 performances during the Sept. 17-23 festival. Between shows, the stars could be seen at the festival’s carnival (as seen in the photo above) and around town. Throughout the festival week, The Daily Republic ran stories, photos and interviews with the stars, who basically set up camp and held court for days on end.

When The Daily Republic photographed the 1967 festival, the newspaper was apparently using a pair of cameras, because the envelope containing the negatives includes both 4×5 and 35mm negatives. Sadly, all the Jack Benny photos are on the 4x5s, and we don’t currently have a way to scan those. But there are dozens of 35mm images of Vinton and Henderson that I was able to scan, including a couple that are attached to this post.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the names, Vinton was one of the most famous pop singers of the 1960s and is probably best known for his hit song “Blue Velvet.” Henderson was the original bandleader for “The Tonight Show.”

Skitch Henderson, center, and Bobby Vinton, right, pose for a photo during the 1967 Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell. The woman at left is apparently the singer Mary Lou Collins. (Daily Republic archive photo)

2 thoughts on “Bobby Vinton and Skitch Henderson at the Corn Palace Festival, 1967

  1. Those were the days. I was working for KORN TV the year before as assistant news director and spent several shows behind stage with Tennessee Ernie Ford and the Young Americans. They were great and I remember their mingling with locals in the downtown area. My job was to take pictures of the stars with local and state dignitaries. Sadly, in some respects, how times change. I’ll be back in Mitchell in June and to the downtown area and tour the Corn Palace to see the decorations and what’s new.

    • Looking back at those old papers, I was really struck by the easy access the paper had to the stars. These days, we have to move heaven and earth to get even five minutes on the phone with an entertainer. When Jack Benny was here, for example, he went golfing and Dean Minder went out and got a picture of him on the course and interacted with him. It’s amazing how much more uptight and disconnected things have gotten.

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