- The Big E
The Big E, also known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as "
New England's Great State Fair". The only cross-state agricultural fair in the United States, the fair serves as the de facto state fair for the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is the sixth largest agricultural fair in the country, and the largest in New England.
The Big E is held every autumn in West Springfield,
Massachusetts. It is open every year for two weeks and three weekends, opening the second Friday after Labor Day and running through the third following Sunday.
The first Eastern States Exposition occurred in 1917. It was originally conceived by
Joshua L. Brooksas a way to help bolster the region's farming industry. The Exposition featured displays of new innovations in the industry, and held contests designed to encourage farmers to better themselves through competition. Since the first Exposition, only World War Iand World War II, during which the military requisitioned the grounds as storage depots, have interrupted the annual tradition.
The fair was first titled "The Big E" in 1968 and remains true to its agricultural roots today, with more than 7,100
4-Hand FFA participants, and 1,100 open show exhibitors, as well as educational displays and attractions.
Avenue of States
One of the most popular attractions at the Big E is the " [http://www.thebige.com/fair/big_e_avenueofstates.html Avenue of States] ". The avenue contains smaller-scale replicas of the original
state houses of each of the New England states, as well as the New England Grange House.
The state buildings feature exhibits and vendors which best exemplify the heritage, food, and traditions of each state. Food vendors can be found in each building selling items that are traditional to their states. For example, the Maine House offers
lobsterand blueberryitems, while the VermontHouse has Ben and Jerry'sice cream.
Much like national embassies, the state houses and the land on which they sit are actually owned by the respective states. Through an arrangement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, they are administered by representatives from each state's police force during the fair. Due to this distinction, tickets for each state's individual
lotterycan be purchased within the houses. There is also a heavy emphasis on tourismpromotion in each state house.
Livestock and animals
In keeping with the fair's farming roots, there are many
livestockdisplays at the Big E. The Big E Coliseumfeatures daily horse shows, while the Mallary Complex houses livestock and other farm animals, including goats, chickens, pigs, and sheep.
Other animals, such as those found at
petting zoos or in the Big E Super Circus, are also featured at the Big E. Small-scale dog and pony shows are regular features of the fair.
Many foods representing New England cuisine can be found at the Big E, along with traditional fair foods like
fried dough, corn dogs, and lemonade. Aside from the state houses, food sellers can be found throughout the main vendor areas and around the perimeter of the fairgrounds.
In recent years, the Big E has endeavored to introduce its own signature foods. This began in 2002 when the Big E introduced Big E Cream Puffs, which it intended to be the signature dessert of the fair. The Big E features the cream puffs in some of its advertising; additionally, the cream puffs have been featured on local and national TV shows, including "
Live with Regis and Kelly". This was followed by the introduction in 2004 of "The Big (Chocolate) Eclairs" and, in 2006 of Big E Chocolate Chip Cookies, made with Ghirardellichocolate.
Small shops are a primary attraction of the Big E. Vendors can be found across most of the fairgrounds, selling items ranging from state-specific
trinkets and regional memorabilia, to household goods and clothing and accessories. Many vendors set up shops selling the same goods in multiple areas of the fair in order to attract as many customers as possible.
The Better Living Center is one of the largest vendor areas, featuring household wares, home improvement services, cookware, and health supplements. The International House is home to vendors selling items from other cultures, particularly those with a common connection with many New Englanders, particularly Irish and Italian imported goods.
* Storrowton Village, where fairgoers can experience New England life from the 19th century
* The Midway, home to carnival rides and games and operated by
North American Midway Entertainment
* A daily
Mardi Gras-style parade
* The Eastern States Coliseum, more colloquially known as the "Big E Coliseum," an arena on the grounds where numerous special events are held and formerly a professional
The fairgrounds are used for other events throughout the year including
Big Railroad Hobby Show
Springfield RV Camping & Outdoor Show
Massachusetts Twisters American Indoor Soccer Leaguehome games
Society of Manufacturing EngineersEASTEC exposition
*Springfield Sportsman show
* [http://www.thebige.com/ The Big E] - official website
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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