With kids off from school and everyone looking for fun ways to enjoy the nice weather, fairs and festivals are the perfect way to get outdoors and forget about responsibilities for just a few hours. Summer is the unofficial festival season. Funnel cakes, fried Oreos, taco trucks and more. Grab some friends and family and enjoy a day of good eats and entertainment at one of the many events happening this year. Not sure where to begin? Stop by one of these seven festivals happening in New Jersey throughout the rest of the summer.
1. State Fair Meadowlands – East Rutherford, NJ
Now – July 11
After being canceled last year for the first time in over 30 years, the State Fair Meadowlands opened last month and is running daily until July 11. The fair takes place every summer at MetLife Stadium and is the largest festival in New Jersey. It has everything from rides and games to pig races and a hypnotist. This year, the famous event has over 150 rides and more than 100 food vendors serving up fair favorites like fried Oreos, corn dogs and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
2. New Jersey State Barbecue Championship – North Wildwood, NJ
July 9 – July 11
Happening over the course of three days, the New Jersey State Barbecue Championship features plenty of ribs, chicken, brisket and other barbecue favorites. The festival hosts a slew of local restaurants that are all aiming to be crowned the Grand Champion. The winner will qualify for the World Food Championship in Kansas City, Missouri. Aside from tasting delicious bites, visitors can learn their own tricks from skilled pitmasters at one of the weekend’s live cooking demonstrations. Or, listen to live music from the accompanying Anglesea Blues Festival happening at the same time.
3. 38th Annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning – Readington, NJ
July 23 – July 25
There is nothing quite like the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, and that’s exactly what makes it one of the state’s most unique summer festivals. The three-day event is filled with beautiful, vibrant-hued specialty and sport hot air balloons, headlining musical guests and tons of other activities. Be sure to make it for the breathtaking, twice-daily releases featuring upwards of 100 colorful balloons. Whether on the ground or taking part in the spectacle by climbing aboard, the event is something to be seen.
4. VonThun Food Truck and Sunflower Festival – Washington, NJ
Summer is sunflower season and VonThun Farms Food Truck and Sunflower Festival is a great way to enjoy the beautiful flowers. The Warren County festival includes a full lineup of activities. Join in with hatchet tossing and face painting, fare from more than a dozen local food trucks such as Empanada Guy, Revolution Taco and beer from Jersey Girl Brewing—for those over 21, of course. Take a stroll through the epic sunflower trails at this one-day festival that is great for a family day trip.
5. New Jersey State Fair Sussex County Farm and Horse Show – Augusta, NJ
August 7 – August 14
Opening on August 7 and sticking around for a full week, the New Jersey State Fair Sussex County Farm and Horse Show is a massive festival loaded with things to see and do. The large event has everything from traditional carnival attractions to demo derbies and monster truck rides. Aside from its namesake horse shows, the fair features attractions such as llama shows, pig and turtle racing and six barns of farm animals. There’s a reason nearly 250,000 people visit the fair each year.
6. Greenwood Lake Air Show – West Milford, NJ
August 13 – August 15
The Greenwood Lake Air Show takes place at Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford, New Jersey, and is a festival filled with extraordinary aerobatics and sky performances. Watch skilled pilots take flight in the Warbirds show, but be sure to stay for the spectacular show after sunset. The Night Show kicks off around 8:30 p.m., filling the sky with lights, pyrotechnics and tight aerial maneuvers. Beyond the sky performances, there is plenty to do on the ground as well. There’s food, aviation-themed vendors and even a car show on Saturday and Sunday.
7. 6th Annual NJ Taco Festival – Augusta, NJ
Who doesn’t love tacos? You’ll want to attend this full-day festival dedicated to their deliciousness. The Sixth Annual NJ Taco Festival features a plethora of tacos, nachos and other festive eats, with vendors facing off for the title of the Tri-State’s Best Taco. Kick back and watch live mariachi, Lucha libre, a chihuahua costume contest and more while sipping on a specialty margarita.
Will you be attending any of these New Jersey summer festivals? Let us know in the comments below.
Main photo by @sfmeadowlands