Stepping Out

The Empire State Fair is in full swing at Nassau Coliseum


Step right up, step right up! The Empire State Fair has returned with jaw-dropping rides, games and shows — welcoming all to enjoy some thrills at Nassau Coliseum. The summertime staple once again takes over the arena grounds, now through July 14.

As always, there’s plenty to see and do. Where else can you find farm animals, “pirate” acrobatics, a giant Ferris Wheel, and a transforming robot — all in one place?

This year, the swashbuckling, “Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Thrill Show” takes to the tightrope in a fearless display of aerial highwire feats.

Alex Murcia, who’s involved with the acrobatic act as both a performer and owner of his family’s Sensational Murcia Productions, says the show, free with admission, is not to be missed.

“We took our strongest circus and thrill acts — the high-wire tightrope walking and the Wheel of Death — and we created a pirate-themed production. So there’s sword fighting, good characters, bad characters, and they’re searching for the treasure map.”

You may even spot a mermaid. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a pirate thrill show without a hint of danger.

“All of that’s happening 25 feet in the air on a quarter-inch cable,” he adds.

The Murcia family goes back 10 generations of performers. This show is a tribute to their Colombian heritage.

“My father is from Colombia. It’s where they have the specialty act of high-wire tightrope walking performance,” Murcia says.
The many tricks are sure to elicit an enthusiastic response from fairgoers.

“The performers balance on chairs while on the high wire. They’ll stand up on the chair. People are like ‘wow, I can’t stand on a chair on the ground, and these guys are doing it up on the tightrope’,” he says.

Visitors can move from the high seas to high-tech with another Murcia family “wonder”: the Big Bee transforming robot car.

“It’s built to be like a life-size Camaro, but inside, instead of having seats, it has a system of hydraulics and different motors that make it lift and open up,” explains Murcia.

“The car goes up and down and transforms from what looks like a regular Camaro to a big, giant robot, Big Bee.”
The kids will want to stop by the Cowtown USA petting zoo run by the Sandlofer family. Here everyone can pet and feed animals that helped shape America, including some that are unexpected.

“We have a domedary camel, Henry. Few people know that camels played an important part in our history. They were part of building the Transcontinental Railroad going through the deserts where horses couldn’t go,” says Sadie Sandlofer, who helps run the family business.

Other animals to see include a Scottish Highlander cow, oxen, baby goats, and sheep. Families can even simulate “milking a cow” as part of the experience.

The carousel of activities also includes the Anastasini Circus, which has been entertaining audiences since 1877, along with a test of wits at the interactive Kidbucks Game Show. To end the day, fireworks light up the night sky on Saturdays.
And of course, the rides and delicious foods — staples of the fair experience — beckon.

“There’s so many attractions that if you went to go see these shows, you would pay more in (individual) admission than you do at the fair to see all of them. So I would say check the website, check the schedule, and obviously don’t miss the shows, because once you’re inside all those shows are free with admission. Take advantage of that,” reminds Murcia.

Grab your tickets, eat some funnel cake and catch the summer breeze. A day of adventure awaits.