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Visit the Empire State Fair

Kidsday reporters from Franklin Square on the Genesis

Kidsday reporters from Franklin Square on the Genesis ride at the Empire State Fair at the Nassau Coliseum. Credit: Newsday/ Pat Mullooly

“Whoa! That’s a big Ferris wheel!” we said as we pulled up to the fair, looking around in wonder. We had just entered the Empire State Fair at the Nassau Coliseum. It was so hard to decide what to do first. Should we go to the petting zoo, look at the sea lions, see the pigs race, get some food to start off or go straight to the rides?

If you are looking for entertainment for the whole family, then the Empire State Fair is the right place. There are so many rides and attractions. It’s hard to choose which one to do first. The fair includes some amazing rides. There were even ones that were 20 stories high. One favorite was Zero Gravity which is a circular ride and instead of seats on the sides, there was just a rope. It flipped on its side and went very fast, while you were standing up. Another, the Fire Ball, went in a giant loop, starting off slow and then it flipped you upside down and just let you hang there for a couple of seconds. The Alien Abduction was an enclosed space and what happened was, it spun really fast, and then the floor would drop beneath you and gravity would hold you up without falling. There were the teacups, a carousel, and a Ferris wheel too. They even had one where you were laying down and they would make you fly like a superhero. There was the Genesis where you went around in a circle. There was also the Tilt-O-Whirl and the Drop Shoot. It went up very slowly, tricking you into thinking that it was going to be a slow and easy ride. And then, out of nowhere, it fell. It happened so fast that you could barely tell it happened until after it slowed down again. They also had mazes like the Cuckoo House and Kings Circus. They had a ride called Vertigo where you would sit in a swing-like chair and you would go around in circles until you reached the top and then you would slowly go back down.

There was a variety of daily free entertainment and shows to enjoy with the family at the fair. The first show we watched was the Racing Pigs. The pigs race five times a day. They are so cute and fun to watch. They run as fast as they can on a hay racing track as the spectators cheer them on. The Sea Lion Splash was a great interactive show that has six sea lions who were rescued from both California and South America. The sea lions do everything from dancing, shoot balls into hoops, shake their flippers and even do a handstand. We loved how the sea lions interact with their trainers as well as the audience. Another great show we were thrilled about was the Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Thrill show. It is an amazing family of five who present a half-hour show with five different acts. Some of our favorites are the high-speed juggling using tennis rackets and other objects, spinning a cube and juggling torches, acrobatics on the trampoline, the hula hoop performances and the breathtaking performance of acrobats over 30 feet high on an aerial swing. The crowd was mesmerized and fixated on every move while being engaged the entire time.

The Arctic Olympic High Dive Show was truly entertaining. The show starts out with a trainer and his penguins who are going to be in the Arctic Olympic Games. The food runs out and the trainer leaves to go find more for them. The Penguins (divers in costume) take advantage and do lots of fun tricks on the diving boards. When the trainer returns he also plays along and does spectacular tricks. The penguins show off their Olympic skills and perform the high dive from over 80 feet high and a fire dive finale that is a must see.

Our next special treat was going into the Educational Petting Zoo & Live Animals Rides. We loved being so up close to all different types of animals such as goats, ponies, llamas, a parrot, and even camels. The petting zoo is free with any entry ticket and open all day during fair hours. We were able to feed and pet all the adorable animals and take up close pictures too. Next to the petting zoo are the live animal rides. You get to experience riding a camel or a pony for only $5. All of the shows have different schedules that are listed online or in the Empire State Fair program.

There were so many food vendors at the fair that we all had trouble choosing which one to try first. We ate crunchy fried pickles, we had funnel cake, we had some French fries with gravy and cheese. We also had some crispy balls of hamburger meat and bacon, coated with bread crumbs and fried from a place called Chompies. The corn dogs were super good too. We had lots of lemonade which was freshly squeezed and yummy. We had a few caramel apples which were mouthwatering. When it came to food our favorite was the funnel cake.

Our day went by so fast and we were so sad when it came to an end. Even the arcade games were fun but also frustrating. We didn’t win anything there but it was still fun trying to win and failing horribly. We were here for six hours and still didn’t get to do it all.

The Empire State Fair runs through May 20. Parking is $5 per car. Admission is $12, and the Fast Pass is $15. All rides and games are $2 per person, per ride, or you can get a Ride All Rides wristband for $27. There is a “Cheap, Cheap Night” May 15. The Ride All Rides wristbands will be available at a discounted price of $22. On May 17, is “Kids Go Free Night” and kids 12 and younger are admitted free. Check out the website:

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