The temperature has already climbed above 80, schools will be out soon, and everyone is looking for fun. That can only mean one thing: the State Fair Meadowlands is not far away.
If you are looking for racing and squealing pigs, a waterslide to get addicted to, or fast food of every imaginable kind, you have come to the right place.
The State Fair Meadowlands runs June 21 through July 7 at the Meadowlands Fairgrounds, next to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. It is the largest fair in the New York metropolitan area, with more than 150 rides and attractions on over 35 acres of fairgrounds.
But even with all the traditional fixtures New Jersey and New York residents have come to expect, the state fair has found ways to grow. One way is this summer’s musical extravaganza and tribute to a foregone era.
Palisades Park Reunion
One of the most talked about events at this year’s fair will be “Cousin Brucie’s First Annual Palisades Park Reunion” on opening weekend. The State Fair will welcome legendary radio personality and current SiriusXM host Bruce Morrow on Saturday, June 22 at 7 p.m., when he bring the sounds of artists who entertained audiences at Palisades Amusement Park in the 1960s.
The evening will include performances broadcast live on SiriusXM’s ‘60s on 6 channel, including Neil Sedaka, Lesley Gore, The Crests, Bobby Lewis, Vito Picone & The Elegants, Randy & The Rainbows, Ronnie Spector, and others. The event is part of the SiriusXM “Sounds of Summer” series.
Palisades Park, which operated from 1898 to 1971, was located on the edge of Bergen County overlooking Manhattan. During his time at WABC Radio in New York, “Cousin Brucie” was known for hosting the famous Palisades Park rock concerts.
“We’ll have something for everybody this year.” – Michele Tartaglione, State Fair managing director
In August 1965, Cousin Brucie had the distinction of introducing the Beatles during their historic Shea Stadium concert.
“I have been waiting for this event to happen for several decades,” said Cousin Brucie. “Palisades Park was more than a Cousin Brucie showcase for the great artists of the day; it was literally an emotional experience for the tens of thousands of my listeners who attended these unforgettable shows. Great talent appeared with me at Palisades, many of whom made their debut.”
The Cousin Brucie event is free with entry ticket to the fair, which is $9 for those 13 and older, and $7 for children 12 and under and senior citizens. Children fewer than 34 inches tall are admitted free.
The entertainment at the 2013 fair is as diverse at it will ever be, with many other new shows and expositions.
“We’ll have something for everybody this year, from returning favorites such as the Racing Pigs, Big Cat Show and Petting Zoo, to the all-new NBA Nation Tour, Circus Maximus and music acts,” said Tartaglione. “Most of our attractions are free with entry ticket, providing families with an affordable day of fun and entertainment. Fans of old-fashioned fair attractions will also love our array of sideshows, including the ‘Girl-to-Gorilla’ show, which is appearing for the first time since 1996 to delight curious fairgoers.”
This year’s featured entertainment includes the following (all attractions are free with entry ticket unless otherwise specified):
• Circus Maximus – Featuring an all-new acrobat who artfully contorts on one hand; a stunning pair of aerialists who will perform their “Moon Act” high above the crowds; clowns, trapeze artists and more.
• The Racing Pigs – Kids and adults will love this hilarious pig racetrack; listen for Pamela Jean, the Pig Racing Queen, who calls the race like the Kentucky Derby!
• The Big Cat Show – Lions, tigers and ligers that are cute enough (almost) to cuddle; the fair’s man, Clayton, will educate audiences all about these majestic protected creatures.
• Girl-to-Gorilla Show – An old-time illusion for the brave and curious (entry fee required); does the girl really grow hair and turn into a gorilla?
• NBA Nation Tour – Meet and greet NBA players; try out an agility course and skills challenge. Friday, June 28, 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, June 29, 2 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, June 30, 2 to 10 p.m.
• NBC 4 and New York Giants Health & Fitness Expo – at MetLife Stadium on June 22 and 23, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get a free hand stamp to enter State Fair at the expo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier - Saturday, June 29, at 2:30 p.m. This is the last qualifier before the big event at Coney Island on July 4. (See sidebar.)
• Hypnotist Steve Bayner – Bark like a dog! Sing like Michael Jackson! Hypnosis pro Steve Bayner will get you every time.
• Educational Petting Zoo – Little ones will adore these interesting, exotic and well-loved animals who return this year to entertain and educate.
• Rides in the Original Batcopter – Batman fans can get a ride in the original helicopter from the 1966 TV series, with panoramic views of the fair and NYC (extra fee required).
• Fabulous Fireworks – Spectacular fireworks shows on July 3 and 4.
The fair will also feature free concerts, with bands ranging from pop music to country to contemporary rock.
Acres of food will be offered, including gyros, sausage and peppers, hamburgers, corn dogs, nachos, quesadillas, funnel cakes, turkey legs, blooming onions, candied apples, curly fries, deep-fried Oreos, corn on the cob, and ice cream.
Days and hours
• Opening Dollar Preview Night, June 21, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.;
• First week: Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight;
• Fridays, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.;
• Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.;
• Sundays, 2 p.m. to midnight;
• Thursday, July 4, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and
• Friday, July 5, from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Parking and shuttles
Parking is free Monday through Wednesday, and $4 Thursdays through Sundays, and July 3. On opening night parking is just $1.
The fair will be offering free shuttle buses from/to the Secaucus Junction Train Station on Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays, 4 p.m. to midnight; Sundays, from 4 p.m. to midnight; July 3 from 6 p.m. to midnight; and July 4, from 4 p.m. to midnight.
Visit www.njfair.com for more information.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com. Local man to chow down for greater glory
On Saturday, June 29, the fair will host a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier at 2:30 p.m., and it will have a local aspect to it. Hoboken resident Jordan Rothman will compete to try to earn a spot in big event on July 4 in Coney Island.
Rothman began eating competitively on a whim in 2005, when his dining hall at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., offered a bicycle as the grand prize of a hot dog eating contest, which he won. The following year, the university named him Athlete of the Week for his success in the hot dog eating contest.
As the contest approaches, he plans to train during most of his free time and run at least 25 miles a week in preparation.
The state fair competition is the last qualifier before Coney Island.
Photos courtesy of the State Fair Meadowlands and SiriusXM.