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Stepping Out

Excitement on the midway

The Empire State Fair gets set to welcome visitors


Fair season has arrived — and the Empire State Fair is ready to kick things off. Its third edition arrives at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, beginning May 3.

Animal adventures, special attractions and, of course, plenty of thrill rides for all ages, along with midway action are all a part of extravaganza, which runs for 11 days. This year’s event has been revamped, beginning with its location.

“It’s a whole new fair,” says Empire State Fair Managing Director Michele Tartaglione. “We have a bigger location in the prime spot in front of the Coliseum this year.”

To go along with the enhanced site, the fair is offering visitors a new slate of entertainment.

The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show leads off this year’s line-up. More than simply plaid shirts and beards, the show highlights the proud history of the lumberjacks renowned strength and skills in a dangerous line of work. Watch as world-class lumberjacks perform their time-honored feats, which include log rolling, underhand chopping, springboard chopping, ax throwing, and crosscut sawing.

Or take a plunge over to the Live Shark Encounter. Get an up-close view of sharks interacting with an underwater diver in an aquarium setting. The diver uses an underwater mask to communicate to others outside the water, giving e a play-by-play of what’s happening inside the tank. “This is a unique opportunity to understand what it feels like to dive and interact with sharks,” says Tartaglione. “It’s quite interesting.”

Also journey back to the dinosaur age with a visit to Jurassic Kingdom. See dinosaurs in action and even touch and interact with them. Fairgoers will step into the era when the most fascinating and fearsome dinosaurs roamed the earth. Upon arriving in the Jurassic Period, learn about various fossils that introduce the show’s dinosaurs. Then interact with some friendly life-life dinos, including Terry, the talking comical pterodactyl; Jack, the two-month-old brontosaurus; Sarah, newborn triceratops; Lucy, a five-year-old velociraptor; and Sparky, a two-year-old tyrannosaurus rex.

Heed the call of the wild at Wolves of the World. This unique show take a look at the mystical enigmatic wolf, with a whole pack in fact, on view. The Sandlofer family recounts how these rescued wolves are raised in captivity and display the traits of the wolf packs, including the alpha male and female and how they interact.

More animal antics can be found at the petting zoo, where families can get up close and personal with a variety of exotic animals from the four corners of the globe — a favorite spot to take selfies. Kids can meet and greet the animals and even go for a pony ride.

Don’t miss out on the antics of Robert Castillo’s BMX Freestyle Team. These riders perform all sorts of stunts on their bikes in their adrenaline-charged routines. “I’m always fascinated by anyone who has the ability and skill to ride like that up in the air,” says Tartaglione.

And, of course, there are the rides. The carnival midway features plenty of rides to occupy all ages, including a friendly Kiddie-land for younger visitors. From the thrilling roller coaster to bumper cars, slides and the mega Ferris wheel, there are enough rides to keep everyone having fun. “Whether you like new thrills or old fashioned simple fun, you’ll find it all here,” says Tartaglione. Once you have had your fill of the rides, try your luck at one of the classic carnival games or grab something to munch on.

The fair offers plenty of options to keep everyone amused for hours. “There’s plenty going on that will keep families entertained,” says Tartaglione. “Wholesome affordable family fun is tremendously important to us. We’re a family business with a long history in New Jersey and we are thrilled to be on Long Island now. We want everyone to come out and see what we’re all about.”

Empire State Fair

When: May 3-19. Gate admission is $12; Unlimited Ride Pass is $25, Thursday and Friday; $30, Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.empirestatefair.com for more information, discounts and promotions; including Dollar Day opening night.

Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale.