June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

New Jersey State Fair Madness

Looking for a fun spot for the entire family? Then look no further! The annual New Jersey State Fair, which opened for the season on Thursday night, June 23, at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, is running through July 10. It is a palooza of more than 100 thrilling rides, many outlandish shows, a myriad of carnival games, robots, animals, dozens of global food vendors and so much more.

The summer of 2019 marked my first time at the State Fair. After having parked our car in the huge lot near Metlife Stadium, my friends and I walked alongside hundreds of fellow New Jerseyans to the ticket center. Upon entering, I was overwhelmed by the wide variety of aromas emanating from the varied food stands: the scents of corn dogs, popcorn, BBQ, funnel cakes, and cotton candy filled my nostrils and caused my stomach to crave these delicious treats. All of the food, however, looked unkosher so we walked into a candy shop that we hoped might carry some packaged kosher snacks. To our delight, a lot of the candy was, in fact, kosher, so we filled our bags with treats, and I was able to purchase a kosher Piña Colada in a tiki souvenir cup at a nearby stand.

In addition to the food stands, we passed by several stations selling t-shirts and other stands marketing chance activities for prizes. I took a chance on a spin-the-wheel game, and Lady Luck won me a bottle opener! Other carnival games included a strongman game, a spinning pull-up bar challenge, a squirt gun game, a ring toss and others. With the cacophony of merchants yelling at passersby to buy their products, I felt as though I was at the shuk in Machane Yehuda being haggled by Israeli vendors.

After walking past the merchant stands, we passed a show called “Pirates of the Columbian Caribbean’’ exhibiting the aerial talents of several trapeze artists with swords, battling on top of a pirate ship. The experience of watching the pirates’ sword fight while they were balancing on a wire between the ship’s two masts was incredible. Additionally, we were blown away by the display of Big Bee Robot, a yellow car that drove around a bit, then somehow unfolded and turned into a giant robot Transformer.

Next, we saw a huge crowd lining up to enter a peculiar event—Racing Pigs. A miniaturized race arena had been set up with multiple bleachers surrounding a race track which was covered in hay, swirling in a loop, and surrounded by a metal fence. At the starting line, there were checkered flags and epic posters of previous pig races, as well as five green boxes where the pigs waited to start. With the song of trumpet fanfare signaling the start of the race, the green boxes’ doors slid open and the pigs were off! During each round, the emcee chose several contestants who cheered the loudest and assigned a pig to each of them. If their pig won, they received a grand prize of a toy pig or a poster of one of the pig racers.

By bringing a lot of energy and by pumping up the crowd with funny jokes, the emcee added to our enjoyment. The pig’s names were all based on celebrities, fictional characters or slogans: Hairy Hambo,
Piggy Minaj, Lindsay Loham, Lady Haga, Spongehog Porkpants, and my favorite, Shake & Bacon. My friends and I were rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically the whole time at the wackiness of the event, making it by far the highlight of the fair for us.

Last summer, my wife, Ahuva and I went back to the fair. We began by observing Steve Bayner, a hypnotist who put about 20 members of the audience under his spell, manipulating them to do some very silly acts. The acts included Steve making a few people believe they were freezing cold, and for another act, he had people play imaginary instruments to a song being played on the loudspeaker. We then went to see the Cycle Circus group perform a motorcycle stunt show. Their stunts were mind-boggling, as the performers rode their motorbikes up a giant ramp, soared through the air while doing a trick, and landed the bike on an opposite ramp. Some of their tricks included flips, 360° spins, or kicking their legs straight up in the air.

After those shows and seeing Racing Pigs again, we headed towards the rides there. First, we did a scrambler attraction, a ride that resembled an octopus with multiple carts hanging like legs from the top of the machine. The machine spun around, while simultaneously, each cart swirled in and out. It was a very dizzying experience for us and after a minute, my wife was feeling nauseous. Many people on the ride begged the man to stop the contraption. I happen to love rollercoasters and can handle pretty much any ride, but after a few minutes, even I pleaded with him to stop the ride. On the sadistic side, he seemed to be getting a kick out of our screams, and it was a full 10 minutes before he stopped the ride. My wife was done with all the thrill rides for the night. I, on the other hand, still wanted to ride the Fireball roller coaster, but the line was too long, so I did not get to go on it.

We continued on to the mirror maze, skyline, the haunted house and the slides. Once it got dark, we went on a giant Ferris wheel located at the backend of the fair, near the Hackensack River. The wheel overlooked the Manhattan skyline which fully lit up the brilliant night sky.

This year, on July 3 and 4, the sky will be filled once again with fireworks to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day at 10 p.m. The fireworks will be displayed by the Garden State Fireworks Company, which has produced spectacular shows for Disney World. Additionally, for those looking to splurge, there is a private helicopter tour that gives you an aerial view of the Meadowlands each day at the fair.

Overall, I would rate the State Fair a 7 out of 10. The shows were highly entertaining and the performers were very talented. Other than the Ferris wheel, however, none of the other rides were too memorable (other than the scrambler, in a negative way…) Still, if you enjoy fun performances or want to try something new, it is well worth the trip. Quick tip: To make sure to optimize your time at the fair, make sure to take pictures of the signs indicating the show times or visit their website prior and take a screenshot of the showtimes.
It is good to balance visiting shows that interest you, with going on rides and playing carnival games. I have gone multiple times (mostly to watch the Racing Pigs show again), and I can’t wait to return soon!


Zachary Greenberg is a Health & Benefits Consultant Analyst at Mercer and the TABC track coach. Last week, Zachary and his family went to Disney World and rode the new rollercoaster “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.” It was out of this world! Also, Zachary recently watched the Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” If you have any recommendations of fun places for Zachary to cover, please email him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles