Nassau Coliseum is not only booking new shows inside the newly refurbished arena, but entertainment is coming to the parking lot as well. The Empire State Fair makes its Long Island debut July 20-30.
“Fairs are different than a carnival,” says owner Al Dorso Sr. “There’s more entertainment for families other than rides. It’s a complete night out.”
The fair boasts 40 rides, 25 games, 30 food vendors and four sideshow attractions. Here are the ones you don’t want to miss:
THE BIG WHEEL
With 24 carts that hold 4-6 people, this enlarged Ferris wheel, which is the biggest portable one on the East Coast, takes passengers 126 feet up in the air.
“It’s calm and relaxing,” says operations director Jimmy Strates. “The ride allows you to see the sights and get a great view. It’s a classic that suitable for all ages.”
The six-minute ride costs $5 and at night it gets fully illuminated with LED lights.
“It’s easily our most popular ride,” says Strates. “Many people take selfies at the top.”
SWIFTY SWINE RACING PIGS
Four baby pigs go head-to-hoof in a race that gets competitive multiple times a day.
“It’s kind of like NASCAR with baby pigs,” says swine master Zach Johnson. “They race full throttle around a 150-foot track for an Oreo cookie.”
At 1 to 3 months old and weighing 15 to 25 pounds, they even have names such as Kevin Bacon, Brad Pig, Kim Kardashingham, Donald Trumproast and Justin Bieboar.
“What you are looking at is Secretariat or Seabiscuit in a pig,” says Johnson. “They are thoroughbreds. There’s no oinking or squealing.”
MAGICIAN AND VENTRILOQUIST GEMINI
What do you get when you blend a stand-up comic with a street magician? That’s “Gemini” John Lombardi, who can pull-off a close-up trick like turning a $1 bill into a $100 bill or entertain with his puppets, The Godfather, Smoky the talking dog and Sonny from Brooklyn.
“I even get a volunteer from the audience and I make them into a puppet,” says Lombardi, who does several shows a day. “I’ll get them to talk about their family or their job. I find out little details and incorporate them in the show.”
It’s all done as a gag.
“There’s nothing better than to sit down and laugh,” says Lombardi. “You will forget about all your ailments for at least 45 minutes.”
HYPNOTIST STEVE BAYNER
World-renown hypnotist Steve Bayner can make volunteers see the audience naked or talk in another language.
“I get members of the audience to join me on stage,” says Bayner, who performs at different times each day. “Once they get up there, they become the show.”
He fully believes that hypnotism is a self-induced state of mind. But do people remember the episode?
“Some people remember, some don’t,” says Bayner. “Three out of 10 forget everything, three remember everything and for four some things are vivid and some things aren’t.”
DEEP FRIED CHOCOLATE CAKE
Get ready to splurge — Great American Funnel Cakes has unleashed a chocolate lover’s dream with a brand-new creation, deep fried chocolate cake.
“We take a slice of chocolate cake, put it on a kebab stick and freeze it. Once it’s frozen we dip it into a funnel cake batter and drop it into the oil for two minutes,” says owner Steve LeMay. “You get a nice fluffy batter surface on the outside and the layers of icing melting on the inside just enough to make it taste like molten lava cake.”
The dessert, which costs $8, is finished with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle on top.
Other similar treats include: fried Oreos $7 (six per bag), fried Twinkies ($5), fried coffee cake ($5) and fried peanut butter and jelly ($5).
WHAT Empire State Fair
WHEN | WHERE Through July 30, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays, 2 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m.-midnight Sundays, 6 p.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays at the Nassau Coliseum parking lot, Uniondale
INFO $12 (free under 34 inches tall), $27 unlimited ride bracelet. Free admission for kids Thursday, July 27. 516-408-1500, empirestatefair.com