The Big E
Eastern States Expedition
1305 Memorial Ave
West Springfield, MA 01089
Dates: September 14-30
No native New Englander is stranger to The Big E. Held in West Springfield, Massachusetts, The Big E is the largest fair in New England and one of the top 10 largest in the country. The event runs annually beginning on the second Friday after Labor Day and lasts for more than two weeks, 17 days total. All New England states, which include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, are included and represented in this major, multi-state fair.
The Big E first began in 1917, when it was then called the Eastern States Explosion (it was first referred to as The Big E in 1968). The tradition has remained every year, with the only exception being during the two World Wars when the grounds were needed for storage purposes. Popular among several generations, many families grew up attending this event and loyalists take part every year. Check out the best of the fair with this list.
Attractions range from livestock and animals to food and entertainment, games, concerts, shop vendors and the infamous Avenue of the States in which each of the six New England states is represented with a smaller-scale version of their statehouse. Each building along the Avenue features goods from its respective state. For example, Vermont’s house offers maple syrup and cheddar cheese while Maine serves fairgoers delicious clam chowder and lobster rolls.
The agriculture is an important aspect of the fair as its history began in farming. Children enjoy the petting zoo and educational demonstrations with horses and other animals. This is a great opportunity for local New England farmers to interact with the community. Cheese and wine competitions are also a part of the great tradition, as well as a spectacular horse show.
Food and Fun
Food ranges from traditional fair food such as fried dough to newer trends such as fried Kool-Aid and even fried butter. Entertainment includes everything from parades to games, rides and even live concerts. The Comcast Arena Stage hosts around 6,000 people in its outdoor area. Performers of varying statuses perform here including some small little-known acts as well as big names. Each weekend, popular performers play for a crowd of concert ticket holders while several free performances occur throughout the week as well. This year’s musical performances include Rodney Atkins, Alan Jackson and Billy Currington. Tickets for these stars can be purchased on Ticketmaster or ordered by phone.
Goods that can be purchased at the fair range from local food to state-specific memorabilia, household goods, clothing and more. There is even a Better Living Center which features home-improvement services and health products, among other items. Because New England is home to so many folks from across the Atlantic, the International House offers goods from various cultures.
The Big E truly has something for everyone. Whether a farming fanatic, a carnival ride dare devil, a cotton candy lover, a history buff, a musician or a shopaholic, this fair offers plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Advance tickets can be purchased online and day-of tickets are available at the window upon arrival to the gates. Be a part of one of New England’s greatest traditions.