It’s that time of year for New England’s biggest fair. The Eastern States Exposition known as ‘The Big E’ takes place in West Springfield, Massachusetts every September. The best part? It goes on for 2 weeks! This weekend marked the opening of the The Big E.
Each day has a special theme. They celebrate all of the New England states - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It’s my goal to attend Connecticut Day one year! Some other special days include Military Appreciation, 4-H Day, Special Olympics and honoring local Massachusetts towns. There is a daily schedule listed on the website. There’s even a daily parade!
The BEST part of The Big E… the FOOD! You need to plan to go there HUNGRY! There’s so much amazing food to sample. I look forward to the Maine Potatoes - baked potato with toppings of cheese, sour cream, butter, chives and bacon. Of course, my favorite dessert is the famous The Big E cream puff. This year, I tried the Maple Cream Cone which was really delicious. I wanted to get more! There’s creative food conjunctions every year - this year they had BBQ split (think of banana splits but with BBQ food), chocolate covered cream puffs, deep fried pineapple upside down cake on a stick and even fried pop-tarts! Turkey legs are also really popular - it’s a tradition to purchase one every time at The Big E.
The sense of pride for New England is very visible on the Avenue of the States. There are 6 replicas of each state’s original statehouse. Those buildings consists of vendors, restaurants, businesses and more from their own states. In the Connecticut building, there’s Mohegan Sun Casino (Uncasville), Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale (Westbrook), Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ (Windsor), Hartford Yard Goats baseball (Hartford) and PEZ (Orange). Few examples in other states buildings are Del’s Lemonade (Rhode Island), Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Cabot (Vermont). I feel like I’ve visited the entire New England in a day every time I go in these buildings.
The Big E has plenty activities for everyone. There’s the Midway rides for the kiddos. Daily concerts, 3 different stages. Agriculture shows to watch. Livestock barns to visit the animals. This year I was able to see a lot of babies in the livestock barn - piggies and goats! They were ADORABLE. Horse shows occurs daily, I sat in on one riding competition a few years ago. It was very fun to watch! Of course, can’t forget the shopping.
Many, many, and many vendors are all over The Big E for shopping. Most are handmade items. It’s impressive to see all kinds of skills from a variety of artists/makers. It’s a good spot to do some early holiday shopping as the gifts range from knives, art prints, clothing, wines, home decor items and many more! The Big E also have their own tents of The Big E souvenirs. You also can shop in the State buildings for gifts related to that particular state. Maine has the best blueberries (and blueberry themed foods) which makes a good gift for those blueberry lovers!
Storrowton Village is a step back in time! It’s a village with 9 antique buildings representing traditional New England during 19th century. The buildings were moved to The Big E over 70 years ago to keep the history alive. People are allowed to tour those buildings where there are guides to talk about its history. The guides even make it fun with their 19th century outfits! Each day there are crafters demonstrations such as chair making, glass blowing, spinning and weaving, and broom making. There will be an ASL tour on Saturday September 28th by a volunteer who is an ASL teacher.
I visited The Big E museum for the first time this year. Located in the Hampden County Building near Storrowton Village with an impressive collection of memorabilia throughout the years. The collection had photographs, old posters, trophies, pennants and more. The Big E has been around for 103 years! I was fortunate enough to be at The Big E for their 100th year. They went all out for the celebration including a huge tier cake with tidbits what makes The Big E!
The Big E is the biggest New England event that every New Englander must visit. It’s definitely time consuming with a lot of walking and a lot to see and do! Every time, I still manage to miss out on something or forget to see/do something. The Big E’s website quotes “There is no Massachusetts State Fair. There is a Six-State Fair - the only one in America”. I couldn’t agree more with that despite it being in Massachusetts, I feel like they do a great job of combining New England in one place!
The parking can be a hassle! The Big E grounds has parking with a $10 fee. I like to park at the Town of Agawam building which is a 3 minutes walk to the grounds. They also charge a $10 parking fee but that goes towards Agawam Police Department for their programs. Not too far from there was a local school where the fee went towards their sports programs. There are several parking lots around The Big E which are owned by local businesses or private homeowners. The prices changes daily depending on the time of the day.
This blog is not sponsored. All opinions in this blog are my own.