NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum has established its first tradition: The Empire State Fair returns for the second year, this time moving from July up to May 11-20.
“We are 10 days of family fun,” says Michele Tartaglione, managing director of State Fair Group, which organizes the event. “The fair has everything you need, from more than 50 rides to four live shows to over 60 different food items plus multiple carnival games in between.”
Shows featuring a mix of talented adults and animals run two or three times a day and are included with admission, .
In Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Thrill Show, the Hansen family tackles everything from trapeze tricks to trampoline stunts to old-fashioned juggling. Meanwhile, the Arctic Olympic Games High Dive Show offers a comedy routine in which divers cast off from platforms 20 feet, 50 feet and 85 feet high.
At the Sea Lion Splash Show, viewers can witness sea lions balancing balls on their noses, shooting hoops with each other and dancing to music.
The ever-popular racing pigs return, entertaining the crowd with bolts around the miniature track before being rewarded with a treat.
“Children are picked out of the crowd to be a pig router who encourages their chosen pig to win the race,” Tartaglione says. “People go crazy for it.”
There’s also a petting zoo featuring llamas, lemurs, kangaroos and camels, with pony rides also available.
VARIETY OF RIDES
The rides offer a style for any age, from wild thrills like the Cliffhanger or the Ring of Fire to kiddie rides such as the merry-go-round and the Wacky Worm.
“We have a Kiddieland that’s separate with food, games and rides that are age appropriate, which makes it easier for parents to navigate,” Tartaglione says. “Our most popular adult ride is the Giant Wheel, which goes up 100 feet high in the air.”
Rides cost 3-5 tickets each at $1 a ticket. There’s also a ride-all-rides wristband option, for which patrons pay one price ($22-$27, depending on the night) and get unlimited rides.
GAMES AND FOOD
Games along the midway, about $3 each, may require skill or bank on chance.
No one will go hungry at the Empire State Fair as the menu is vast. “We have everything from alligator to zeppoli,” Tartaglione says.
For the adventurous, there are temptations like banana split on a stick or fried lemonade (yes, it’s true). Or go global with Greek, Mexican and Italian dishes. Traditional staples — cotton candy, chicken fingers with fries and funnel cakes — are represented.
While there are many intriguing rides at the Empire State Fair, only one was used by Batman. Long Islanders will get the opportunity of a lifetime to ride the original Batcopter from the 1966 “Batman” TV series and feature film, “Batman: The Movie,” starring Adam West.
“It’s an iconic aircraft,” says Eugene Nock, owner and operator of the Batcopter, from Nockair Helicopters Inc. “We keep it airworthy. There’s a mechanic on it full time. It travels around the country from event to event.”
For $50 a person, Nock will take two people on a three-minute ride above the fairgrounds.
“Everyone really enjoys it,” says Nock, who bought the Batcopter in 1997. “Many Batman fans cry from happiness.”
EMPIRE STATE FAIR
WHEN|WHERE 6-11 p.m. weeknights (Fridays till midnight) and 2 p.m.-midnight weekends May 11-20 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. Rain or shine.
INFO 516-231-4848, nycblive.com
ADMISSION $12, $5 parking
SPECIAL DEALS May 11 is family value night with $2 rides and games. May 15 brings $22 unlimited ride wristbands. On May 17, children 12 and younger get in free.