EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – State Fair Meadowlands started as a modest six-day event in 1986 in the old Giants Stadium parking lot encompassing 10 acres and offering only a dozen rides and games.
34 years later, the 18-day carnival extravaganza has quadrupled in size and grown to become the largest fair in New Jersey-New York metro area.
Situated outside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, the biggest family entertainment attraction in the region runs now until Sunday, July 7.
The new fairgrounds, opening in 2011 after the completion of the new stadium, now encompasses 35 acres and features 300 free shows, and 150 rides and attractions. There’s 50 food trucks and dessert vendors from around the country.
This year, there’s more free entertainment than ever before. Old favorites returning are the popular Steve Bayner Hypnotist Show, Rosaire's Royal Pig Racers, and strolling magician Artie Miller.
New this year is Magician Jay Mattioli, decorated in hip, vivid costumes, a carefully punked hairdo, and a vivacious assistant on his side, performs magic with everything from live animals to levitating microphones. Jay also vaporizes his body in the blink of an eye.
Other shows include Extreme Illusions & Escapes Show, Jungle Island High Dive, Jurassic Kingdom, Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, Art of Magic, and Cycle Circus Live - the largest FMX freestyle show of its kind in the world today.
In addition to the largest kiddie land in Jersey, comic book and aviation enthusiasts can go airborne in the most famous helicopter of all-time - the original Batcopter from the 1960’s Batman television series and movie.
You can also soar over the Fairgrounds on the Sky Ride and marvel at New York City's skyline.
Hungry? The food vendors serve corn dogs, gyros, funnel cakes, candied apples, deep-fried Oreos and cotton candy. There’s even Alligator on-a-Stick and Grilled Cheese Donuts.
There are over 185,000 zeppoles, 50,000 corn dogs and over 17,000 bags of cotton candy sold at the fair annually.
How about face painting, caricaturists, and plenty of shopping and flea market-type vendors? Yup, they’ve got it covered.
Wednesday, July 3 and Thursday, July 4 will be highlighted by spectacular late-night fireworks shows to celebrate Independence Day.
Established as a family owned business in 1921, State Fair Group of Belleville is now in its fourth generation of operation. In the 16 years they have managed this event, there has been resurgence in the number of families that attend.
Last year’s fair attendance topped 400,000 and generated almost $1 million dollars in state tax revenue, as individuals spend an average of $35.55.
It takes four days to set up over 300 attractions and takes up to 3 days to tear it down. About 1,000 people work at the fair annually, from maintenance to management.
New Jersey has the strictest laws in the country governing ride safety. Every ride must be licensed by the State and all rides must be inspected and approved to operate prior to opening. They are then re-inspected, unannounced, during fair time.
The fair is an annual family tradition for many residents, and that represents all that is good in New Jersey.