New Jersey sometimes gets a bad rap when it comes to events that occur across the state; a situation that is completely without merit. Oh sure, we’re not as big geographically as our neighbors to the north and to the west, but we have two (count ‘em) two state fairs.
Patricia Buchanan is a PR representative for the one coming up soon: “This is State Fair Meadowlands, held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford from June 22 thru July 8. (The other "state fair" you’re thinking of is what’s also known as the Sussex County Farm & Horse Show, held in August up in Sussex County),” she wrote.
Going over a bullet-point list of data regarding State Fair Meadowlands can be overwhelming at first. The event has been in existence for 26 years; there are over 7,000 bags of cotton candy sold at State Fair Meadowlands and over 5,000 corn dogs sold at the fair annually; almost 100 pig races annually (and this year marks a quarter-century of oinking racers); over 1,300 people hypnotized annually at the fair (presumably not while they’re racing pigs, however); and perhaps just as importantly, each year, the fair generates almost $1 million in sales tax for the state of New Jersey.
There is a lot of it to experience, so we’ve made it this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: About 40 minutes.
Why it’s Worth the Trip: A state far, the state fair, what’s in a name especially when it is offering summertime fun practically in one’s own backyard? And if you think about it, MetLife Stadium is a rather big backyard, so you’re not likely to run out of good times and activities for your day’s stay.
How to Get There From Here: Detailed driving directions.
You’ll Probably Get Hungry: It’s not advised that you do a lot of running around after you’ve arrived at the fair, considering you’ll probably want to keep your parking space once you have secured it. However, Patrician Buchanan said that eating will not be a problem at the event. “The food is incredible! You can get delicious Italian, Greek, Asian, Tex-Mex, Colombian, and other great ethnic fare–as well as American treats such as curly fries, corn dogs, smoothies, corn on the cob, turkey legs, deep-fried Oreos and much more,” Buchanan said.
While You’re in the Area: As goes for the food, so goes for looking for other activities when you head out for the fair. It’s best to plan your day focused on what’s happening at MetLife Stadium. But what exactly is that?
Aside from a vast assortment of rides and carnival games, as you would rightly expect from a fair, there will also be the return of favorite shows and activities like the NJ Wine Competition for amateurs and professionals; The Big Cat Show–lions and tigers from a big cat sanctuary in Florida; Circus Maximus–an 1,800-seat circus with thrill and animal shows; Racing Pigs–hilarious pig race track to delight both kids and adults; rides in the original Batcopter (from the 1960s Batman TV show); the fair's famous Skyride; master hypnotist Steve Bayner and the Festival of Magic; an educational petting zoo; and fireworks on July 3 and 4.
There are also some additions to this year’s roster featuring Live Shark Encounter, an educational show about one of nature’s most fearsome creatures, and the Hall of Wonders/Palace of Illusion–a world-famous troupe of sword swallowers, contortionists and fire swallowers making a return appearance after a three-year hiatus.
If you’re an adventurous foodie, or just a fan of Cajun cooking Chester’s Gators and Taters will be serving up, well, gators and taters. This addition to the food festival portion of the NJ State Fair may raise some eyebrows, but those who have tasted fried gator meat before seem to swear by it. Ready to take a bite out of one of the bayou’s most famous predators?
With all the rides set for kids and adults, one might ask what is available (and appropriate) for the youngest of the family. The fair features over 25 kid-friendly rides–including the Rockin’ Tug, the Caterpillar Coaster, Construction Zone, Bumble Bee, and the traditional Merry-Go-Round–as well as special fair games where kids of all ages can step up to win their favorite prizes.
“For just $5 admission on weeknights and $7 on weekends and holidays, you can bring a child to State Fair Meadowlands and enjoy the country’s best live animal shows, circus performers, rock bands and petting zoo,” said Al Dorso, President of State Fair Meadowlands. “We even offer a ‘Kids Go Free’ night on June 27, where any child 12 and under gets into the fair for free.”
So why shouldn’t New Jersey have two state fairs? And why shouldn’t you take the opportunity to check out NJ State Fair at the Meadowlands this summer? (Day Tripper will present the Sussex County Farm & Horse Show in a few weeks, so keep reading this website for more details!)
To find out more about the State Fair Meadowlands, visit its site by clicking here.