Fifty years ago President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke at a Labor Day rally held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

President Lyndon B. Johnson met crowds and cows at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds

President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke at a Labor Day rally held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in 1966.

The visit, on Sept. 5, was part of a mid-term elections barnstorming tour of the Midwest.

President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in 1966 duirng a mid-term elections barn storming tour. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
Photo: HANDOUT

The event, organized by the Dayton Building Trades Council and the Miami Valley AFL-CIO, drew close to 70,000 people, according to a Dayton Daily News story.

The President, sporting a bandaged right thumb, flew into Cox Municipal Airport accompanied by his wife, Lady Bird.

Johnson, a Texas native, stopped to admire beef show animals at the fairgrounds before his speech. Film footage from the event shows the President wrangling an Angus steer he held by a lead rope and admiring a trio of show Herefords.

When asked how they compared to Texas livestock, he said, “I think these are better; we don’t have so much good feed to give them.”

The Dayton Daily News dedicated a page to the visit that was headlined, "President Lauds Ohio Cattle."

The crowd was “jammed in the grandstands and tightly packed on the racetrack,” according to the newspaper account. Several people fainted during the wait to see the president and had to be removed.

President Lyndon B. Johnson with his wife Lady Bird visited the Montgomery County Fair on Labor Day in 1966. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

The visit took place in the midst of the Vietnam War and a year after Johnson implemented his Great Society domestic programs to combat racial inequality and poverty.

“On this Labor Day weekend I have sought the best relaxation that a President can get," Johnson said. "That’s by folding away your Washington newspapers, leaving the Capitol and coming out and visiting with his friends and his countrymen.

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“With all the bright young faces that I am looking at here in Dayton, I want to talk about another recourse. A rich and inexhaustible and unpredictable recourse. I want to talk about the young people of America."

A pair of signs were held up by Antioch College students during the speech, according to the Dayton Daily News account. One was lettered, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and the other, “Please Stop the Killing.”

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The President ended his address with a call for the services of the nation's young people.

“The young follow the suit of their parents who live by the philosophy: don’t stick your necks out, don’t get involved," he said. "From this philosophy comes either willful violence or willful indifference.

"So I’ll say to America in this hour, let us guarantee to our young people more than the right to dissent. Let us give them not only an opportunity to declare against something, let’s give them a chance to declare for something.”

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