The time has come once again for Long Island to turn into a fair ground. The Empire State Fair returns to Nassau Memorial Veterans Coliseum from May 3 through 19 and it will be even better than last year with the promise of new vendors, entertainment and events for kids. And hopefully, this year, the weather will hold out.
“We start planning again right after the fair closes. We also do another fair at the end of June in New Jersey,” said Michele Tartaglione, the managing director for Empire State Fair. “This year, the big change is in the visibility of the location as we will be located on Hempstead Turnpike. Also new is the schedule; we’ll be open May 3 through 5, May 9-12 and then again May 16-19, which gives guests more weekends, but the same number of days as in the past to enjoy the fair.”
Visitors to the fairgrounds can always expect two things: food and fun, they just have to bring friends and family. According to Tartaglione, there will be a kiddie land with more than 20 rides and thrill rides for children, tweens and adults along with games of chance and games that test skill. But the pièce de résistance to any fair is, of course, the giant Ferris wheel.
“During the week-long process to set up everything, we will be featuring well over 50 vendors in food, entertainment and games,” said Tartaglione. “Everyone loves fair food, so we have the traditional fare like hot dogs, pizza, corn dogs, curly fries, sausage and peppers, falafel, zeppoles and funnel cakes. We also have a Greek stand that has been very popular over the years.”
According to Tartaglione, the fair is very excited to introduce three new entertainment shows this year: Wolves of the World, Jurassic Kingdom and a live shark encounter, all of which have been a major hit with kids and families at other fairs.
“Wolves of the World is new for us this year. It’s educational and talks about wolves and how they are pack animals. The wolves will also be performing in the arena,” said Tartaglione of the event that takes place during the fair’s first weekend. “Up next is Jurassic Kingdom. Obviously the dinosaurs aren’t real (they are animatronic puppets), but performers interact with them and kids can hold them and play with them. This show teaches kids about fossils and gives a history lesson on dinosaurs.”
The last entertainment event is the live shark encounter, which occurs throughout the fair’s run. A trained diver goes into a tank and plays with sharks, educating the audience about the species. Tartaglione noted that the groups are rescue organizations that provide the animals and that this specific show is the only traveling shark show in the U.S. This year also brings the return of the educational petting zoo, live animal rides, Robert Castillo’s BMX Freestyle Team and a Paul Bunyon Lumberjack Show where professional lumberjacks show off their talents.
Are you excited yet? If you plan on coming down to the fair, the general price of admission is $12 for children and adults, and children under 34 inches are admitted for free. There are also specialty offers that families can take advantage of including a ride-all-rides wristband, dollar day (May 3) and Cheap Cheap Night, where wrist bands are $22.
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is located at 1255 Hempstead Tpke., in Uniondale. For more information on dates and times, visit www.empirestatefair.com or follow @empirestatefair on social media.