Racing pigs. Hypnotists. The Marshall Tucker Band. Freedom Fest State Fair NJ is a lot of things, but it's not your average state fair. Besides familiar fair attractions such as roller coasters, ferris wheels, and carousels, this celebration features strange sights and hands-on activities. Or sometime face-on—pie-eating contests every night prove who is the best berry-guzzler. And on Healthy Eating Saturday, the fair hosts herb-tasting alongside gardening shows and farmers' markets. Other can't-miss events include the Eudora Animal Petting Farm, where kids can cuddle with zebras, lemurs, tortoises, and a giraffe. Celebrity hypnotist Catherine Hickland of One Life to Live, Knight Rider, and Law and Order, meanwhile, can convince adults they are cuddling zebras, lemurs, tortoises, and a giraffe. At night, big-name country artists such as Lyndsey Highlander, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Little River Band join forces with local acts such as Kindred Spirit and cover bands such as Tusk, the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band. Click here to view the complete 2013 schedule.
As the sun rises over Manito Equestrian Center's sprawling farm, horses stir and whinny within their stalls. The steeds blink as they emerge from their stately, centuries-old bank barn to run and jump across 60 acres of land, including indoor and outdoor riding arenas.
A staff of seasoned horsewomen attends these gentle mounts, filling their stalls with fresh straw, feeding them nutritious oats, and reading aloud to them from Black Beauty every night. They also strengthen and expand the equestrian community, teaching students of all ages and experience levels riding techniques and horse-care fundamentals during lessons and camps. These sessions focus on dressage, hunt-seat, Western, and recreational styles, preparing riders for a fun trot through the woods or a career in competitive jumping. The trainers also conduct an innovative equine-assisted learning program that uses horse therapies and exercises to promote resilience and the development of life skills in children and adults recovering from trauma.
Throughout the week, Live Learn and Play abounds with youngsters of all ages, genders, and special needs, frolicking among inflatable obstacle courses, therapeutic swings, and ball pits under the supervision of childcare professionals. During youth classes and camps certified instructors lead classes in art, dance, and music, enriching kids' bodies and minds while distracting them from plots to age. Meanwhile, in the parent-resource center, adults attend childcare-training workshops and an abundance of classes, including kickboxing, nutrition, and yoga. The center even offers mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which utilizes healing oxygen treatments in an effort to improve conditions such as autism, arthritis, and allergies.
Rather than a competition, the instructors at Lehigh Valley Shihou-ken Karate treat their self-defense style as an art form. Sensei Charlie draws from more than 40 years of martial-arts training to lead his team in training students as young as 9 or old enough to be technically immortal. In classes tailored to specific ability levels, the instructors drill students in strikes, blocks, and kata—a choreographed series of fighting moves. All classes focus on the shihou-ken style, which blends elements from three forms of traditional Japanese karate and also introduces principles of muay thai, boxing, and judo.
There's no shortage of martial-arts disciplines to be mastered at Lehigh Valley Martial Arts. Students can opt to take kung fu, karate, tai chi, or qi gong, depending on the location they attend. Expert instructors promote a motivating and inviting atmosphere by helping participants of all experience levels improve or learn new skills.
In a go kart, you're much closer to the source of horsepower than when you're riding in a car. All that invisible force leaps to life when you hit the accelerator, gently pushing you back into the seat. Drivers at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix feel that pull as they whip around a quarter-mile racetrack in gas-powered Sodi GT5 Proline karts. They slip past one another while making 11 brake-stomping turns, all with a vantage point not afforded by watching races on TV.
The karts feature air-intake units that trap their exhaust and keep the atmosphere fresh, and the track?constructed from 1,300 used Goodyear tires and the shredded remains of Mario Andretti's learner's permit?is outfitted with three observation platforms for track marshals to regulate each lap and guarantee riders' safety. Three-point safety belts, roll bars, helmets, and neck braces also protect racers during their white-knuckle trips around the track. A full-time mechanic keeps finish lines crowded by calibrating karts to run within three-tenths of a second of one another and hanging hundreds of pi?atas from the checkered flag. At the facility's bar, Octane, racers can refuel with drinks and food while watching stock-car races on the five 42-inch TVs.