While the last two weeks haven’t quite felt like Fall here in New England, the cool air is already rolling through and leaves are beginning to change. Though, it doesn’t need to be fall-like weather to enjoy something that comes this time a year here: The Big E.
If you’ve never heard of The Big E, then here’s some quick history. The proper name is The Eastern States Exposition, an agricultural fair that takes place for a little over two weeks each September. Started in 1916, each state is represented at the fair with buildings located on the Avenue of the States. Each building houses businesses and exhibits (along with famed local foods) that one can peruse and shop at, or gather information about what that particular state has to offer from skillfully trained representatives.
Along with the Avenue of the States, the fair also includes a coliseum for equestrian and 4H competitions, a farm complex with livestock and tools, vendors, food and drinks, the Midway rides area, and the Storrowton Village. To say this event draws large crowds would be an understatement.
As one who has lived in New England all my life, I had surprisingly never been to the Big E. This past Thursday was my first time, and I can’t even begin to talk about how much I enjoyed it. And this year happens to be their 100th Anniversary.
The first thing I did when we arrived was buy a pair of sunglasses, but once I had my hands on them we made a straight line for Avenue of the States.
If you’ve ever been to the Big E, you know how each state’s house might offer a special food item that people rave about. Rhode Island has their seafood and clam chowder, for example. But I had heard all about the Maine Baked Potato Bar, and that’s where I headed. I was in spud heaven, and along with an iced maple coffee (also from the Maine house) we were relatively set for a few hours of wandering and checking out exhibits.
My favorite part? You get to meet local artisans and business owners in each of the buildings hailing from that particular state. In Vermont’s building there is of course a Ben & Jerry’s, and in Connecticut’s they have a Lego Exhibit. On my particular trip, a full scale Wonder Woman statue was made out of Legos!
Going to each of the buildings on Avenue of the States makes you feel like you’re getting a taste of each of them, and how just because Connecticut and Massachusetts are right next to each other does not mean they’re the same. A quick fun fact: every State’s building is considered their land/jurisdiction. Essentially, visitors can go to every state in New England without having to drive for hours. I did not stick around for the concert that night, but if you’re in town long enough be sure to check and see what their guest musicians are. They have daytime shows of folk music and the like, and in the evening a big performance.
Another big highlight of the Big E was the parade that takes place every day at 5pm. Led by the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses and carriage, this parade also features a high school marching band each day from several different towns throughout New England.
Our own Conval Regional High’s band marched on New Hampshire Day – Friday the 23rd! It definitely is an enjoyable end to a day.
If you live in New England and have never been, or happen to be stopping through during the middle of September, try and make a stop at the Big E. You’ll get to experience something that not only is special to New England, but is unique in general. The Big E is something to look forward to for each Fall. I wish I could properly highlight all of the really neat things I saw or did while I was at the Expo. From the beer gardens to the horses, the circus museum and craft vendors nestled into Storrowton, there’s so much to do and see for everyone.