Live sharks, racing pigs, and gator on a stick
State Fair Meadowlands returns June 22
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Jun 17, 2012 | 3662 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARNIVAL RIDES – Visitors to the State Fair Meadowlands, running from June 22 to July 8, can experience traditional carnival rides.
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State Fair Meadowlands returns on June 22 with 17 days of rides, games, kid-friendly activities, shows, and food. This year’s fair, located next to the Met Life Stadium on Route 3 in East Rutherford, features new attractions such as a Live Shark Encounter and new foods like alligator on a stick and fried peanut butter and jelly.

The fair boasts more than 150 rides and attractions on over 35 acres of fairgrounds.

Appealing across generations

“Everyone goes to the fair,” said Michele Tartaglione, managing director. She has produced the fair since 2003. She said that the fair appeals to families, teenagers, seniors, and has recently appealed to individuals in their twenties – an unusual trend for the fair.

“When I was 20 you didn’t go to a fair and you didn’t dress up for Halloween, but now young people are doing the things [they did] when they were young,” she said.

Tartaglione expects 400,000 people to attend this year if there is good weather, based on admission numbers from previous years.
“Every year we try to bring in something new.”— Michele Tartaglione
Visitors can return to see the popular racing pigs, undergo hypnosis by master hypnotist Steve Bayner, or experience new attractions such as the Live Shark Encounter, an educational water show that has live sharks.

“Every year we try to bring in something new,” said Tartaglione. The fair attempts to appeal to all tastes and will even have a vendor who serves alligator on a stick.

“I think people are interested in different types of foods,” said Tartaglione. As someone who has eaten snake, bear, and elk, Tartaglione acknowledged that alligator may not appeal to all. “The picky eater may be afraid to try it,” she said.

But even for picky eaters, the event serves up standard fair food such as curly fries, chicken fingers, pizza, cotton candy, fruit smoothies, and ice cream, among other items.

Kid-friendly attractions

The state fair has a designated “Kiddieland” amusement area and plays host to over 25 kid-friendly rides that include the Rockin’ Tug, the Caterpillar Coaster, and the traditional merry-go-round.

For children who enjoy “Geocaching,” an outdoor activity that requires the use of a GPS to find certain treasures, the fair will have its own real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Containers will be placed throughout the fair, filled with prizes, and fair goers will be able to use their GPS-enabled devices to participate and interact with others. Another attraction that is popular with children is Circus Maximus, a tent circus with acrobats and animal shows. Shows are free with fair admission.

Dora the Explorer will be at the fair June 30 through July 1 to meet and greet visitors.

Attraction highlights

Some of the highlights this year are:

The Live Shark Encounter – An educational show about one of nature’s most fascinating creatures. Visitors can watch as the shark trainer dives in to the tank.

Chester’s Gators and Tators – Often called swamp food; visitors can eat alligator on a stick.

Hall of Wonders and the Palace of Illusion – A world-famous troupe of sword swallowers, contortionists and fire swallowers is back after a three-year hiatus.

Racing Pigs – The longest running show at the fair.

Circus Maximus – A contemporary tent circus with trapeze acts, animal shows, and acrobats.

Fireworks: July 3 and July 4.

The Big Cat Show – Lions and tigers from a big cat sanctuary in Florida.

Educational Petting Zoo – Goats, sheep, camel, llama, donkeys, mini horses, ringtail limas, elephant, kangaroo, coatimundi, and pony rides.

Zombie Night: June 29 visitors can arrive in costume with make-up or pay a fee to get made-up.

The fair runs June 22 through July 8. Fair hours are Monday through Thursday 6 p.m. to midnight; Fridays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturdays 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sundays 2 p.m. to midnight. On June 22, opening day, gates open at 4 p.m. for a dollar preview night. Admission is $2 and select rides, games, food and drinks cost $1 each. Parking is just $1.

On July 3 the hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and July 4 the hours are 2 2 a.m.

This year, the fair is offering free parking Monday through Wednesday and $4 all other days, including July 4. For more information, ticket prices, and updates visit:

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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