EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – As a child, I remember attending the first Fair at the Meadowlands in 1986.  It was a six-day event at the old Giants Stadium parking lot encompassing 10 acres and offering only a dozen rides and games.  To me, it seemed larger than life.
 
Now, 32 years later, State Fair Meadowlands outside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, is far beyond larger than life.  In fact, it’s the largest fair in the New Jersey – New York metro area.  It runs for 18 days until Sunday, July 8.
 
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, Sea Lion Splash, Belmont’s Festival of Magic, and Rosaire's Royal Pig Racers.
 
All-new shows include Extreme Illusions & Escapes Show, and my personal favorite, Johnny Rocket’s 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.

 
How about face painting, caricaturists, and plenty of shopping and flea market-type vendors?  Yup, they’ve got it covered.
 
Tuesday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 4 will be highlighted by spectacular 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 15 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 and three days to tear it all down.  About 1,000 people work at the fair annually, from maintenance to management.
 
The fair is an annual family tradition for many residents, and that represents all that is good in New Jersey.