Circus acts, bull riding and more new entertainment at State Fair

ENTERTAINMENT. New events and activities will entertain fairgoers alongside longtime staples at the New Jersey State Fair-Sussex County Farm and Horse Show.

| 31 Jul 2023 | 04:41

The highly anticipated New Jersey State Fair – where agriculture, arts, livestock, carnival and competition come together – will showcase new events this year.

The new features kick off opening night with bull riding. The show starts at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4.

Combat Robotics will make its debut at the fair all day Saturday, Aug. 5, in the BBQ Pavilion.

“It’s basically hand made robots fighting each other,” said event coordinator Benjamin Jorritsma, of Ideal Farms. “It’s all remote controlled from outside an eight-by-eight foot steel-framed polycarbonate material. This is necessary as there’s a lot of kinetic, [it’s] high-impact and parts can come off.”

Circus Incredible will also be new this year in the Family Entertainment Area. The acrobatic circus event features performers related to the Flying Wallendas, of tightrope walking fame. “Join the Circus,” where kids get to perform circus acts, will be staged by Giovanni Anastasini, who worked with the fair for other events in the past.

On Monday, Aug. 7, powerhouse musical duo, “The Harrisons,” will release their second album live on stage at 7:30 p.m.

The “Salute to Veterans” is happening on Veterans and First Responders Day, Wednesday, Aug. 9. Ethyl Simmons, director of the performing arts tent, has been working with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to put together displays for the event. There will be color guards, bagpipers and drummers.

Simmons is one of an army of volunteers who make the fair possible.

“It’s a lot of work, but I love it,” she said.

Where old is new

Joan Snook Smith is president of the Sussex County Farm & Horse Show Association, and has volunteered for many years. The Snook Agricultural Museum, created in memory of her father, will be celebrating 40 years at this summer’s fair.

“Our theme will be ‘Christmas on the Farm,’” Smith said. “There will be a lot to celebrate the anniversary throughout the week, including the return of Molly, a life-sized, fiberglass cow that can be milked.”

The milk is actually water that is recycled back through Molly.

New this year in the Milky Way, between the Snook Museum and the Livestock Pavilion, is a story-walk of “Rooster’s Day at the Fair.” A story-walk is an illustrated children’s book that is posted page by page along a walking route. “Rooster’s Day at the Fair” was written by Jeanne Heinke, a longtime fair volunteer, and Smith.

Last year, the fair held its first Sensory Friendly Day. It will return again August 8. The event is part of Children’s Day, and entails turning off all of the carnival’s lights and sounds for two hours so both children and adults who have a sensitivity can enjoy the rides and attractions.

The Flower Show, which is held at the fairgrounds’ Conservatory, will focus around “Flowers & Fashion” this year. Fair volunteer April Fisher was instrumental in bringing the theme to life.

“The show will feature flowers in hats, purses, shoes, etcetera” she said. “There are amateur and professional judging classes, and this year’s professional competition, called ‘Art in Bloom’ will require competitors to create their pieces based on local artist Rita Joyce’s work.”

Time for fun

The 2023 New Jersey State Fair-Sussex County Farm and Horse Show is jam-packed with nine days of family fun. Festivities will kick off opening night on Friday, August 4, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekday hours are noon to 10 p.m.

Don’t forget to try the fair’s signature bloomin’ onion, check out the horse show, visit the animals, and ride the Ferris wheel.