BIG E CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL

If you have never experienced The Big E in West Springfield, MA, you have missed one of the biggest County fairs ever held and this year, they are celebrating their 100th Anniversary in style from September 16 to October 2, 2016.

BIG E CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL

Beginning its 100th Anniversary run, The Big E opened to massive, enthusiastic crowds.

Taking advantage of the perfect weather, the parking lots closest to the exposition grounds in West Springfield, MA, were full by mid afternoon, but once you found your parking, the grounds, with their vastness, made you feel it was just crowded, not overwhelming.

The number of things that overwhelm your senses are another thing -- the smell of foods, the competitons, the vendors, the Midway rides, the bands, the circus -- fill every minute of your time.

Brian Cote of Enfield Ct  carries a giant stuffed dog from the Midway after he shot circle out of shooting game
Brian Cote of Enfield Ct  carries a giant stuffed dog from the Midway after he shot circle out of shooting game
Hadley Beekeepers Association display of honeys in their display in the Better Living Center at The Big E
Hadley (MA) Beekeepers Association display of honeys in their display in the Better Living Center at The Big E

Everyone who has been before has their favorites. And some lines are incredibly long for certain things that I would never eat. Personally, I have never understood the draw of the "Giant Turkey Leg," but I will stand in line for Millie's Pierogies.

When you get tired of standing and walking around, visit the arena and sit and watch one of the myriad of competitions. Yesterday's Hunter Jumping competiton was fun to watch even when you knew no one competing and had no idea how it was scored. The enthusiasm of the crowd was infectious and a welcome respite to the crowds in the Midway and the food booths.

It is amazing how many things are sold at The Big E that you had no idea you MUST own. Sometimes you feel like you are in a "live" infomercial as hawkers wearing microphones push the "best knife you have ever owned, available today for the low price of $21, reduced from $30, and today only, get a second free with your purchase!" And of course, there is the booth with the "big chair" where you will get your photo taken for the low price of $5. In the day of selfies, I'm amazed that people still did this.

But don't get me wrong, these are entertainment in my mind. It is part of the kitsch of the fair. When you go in the New England statehouses, you really do get a feel of each state's mannerisms. The food native to each state stands out. It's not a good year for me until I have my Lobster Roll from the Maine house, followed by something with Maple Sugar from the Vermont house.

The Avenue of States features six magnificent houses for each of the New England states. Each state features the best they have to offer within their personal embassies. And they are like embassies. An interesting fact about this famous Avenue is that each state owns its building and the land the structure is built upon. As you enter each building, you feel like you are transported to each state. One of my favorites is the Lobster Roll in the Maine State House, where each succulent serving tastes like it is fresh from the waters off its coast.

Another unique feature of Eastern States Exposition is Storrowton Village Museum, an Early American village of the 1700s and 1800s. In 1926, Boston philanthropist and Exposition trustee Helen Osborne Storrow began her search for an early New England building to house her Home Department at the Exposition. This ambitious and generous woman eventually donated nine buildings – each an original structure from the various New England states – that all date between 1767 and 1850. Storrowton is open to visitors year-round as a historical museum and is the site of special events and educational “Living History” programs for school children.

My daughter loves the International Plaza in the Young Building which features merchandise from around the world. Last year she purchased one of her favorite soccer sweatshirts from Ireland.

But her favorite location every year has always been the Magic Midway – the world’s largest traveling midway. It's like Six Flags was transported to West Springfield. The majestic swing ride takes you high over the fairgrounds, giving a view that stays with you your whole life. There are log flumes, whip rides, roller coasters, superman-type flying rides, and the 115 foot high Giant Wheel -- it is every adrenaline junkies dream location.

Don't miss it. It's just 150 miles from Brooklyn. It is worth the trip.

FULL DETAILS OF THE BIG E

Music lovers are in for a treat with this year’s lineup of great shows at The Big E’s xfinity arena and Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by xfinity®.

xfinity arena Schedule, All shows take place at 7:30pm and are free except where noted.

Sept. 17: Blood, Sweat & Tears, featuring Bo Bice
Sept. 18: Collector Car Experience, 2pm
Sept. 23: X Ambassadors
Sept. 24: Elle King
Sept. 25: Maren Morris
Sept. 30: Lee Brice ($29/$39)
Oct. 1: George Thorogood And The Destroyers

Tickets for xfinity arena concerts are available at Tix.com and TheBigE.com. Free concerts come with the option of purchasing premium reserved seating for $25, which includes Fair admission, a $15 value, when purchased prior to the show date.

Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by xfinity, All shows take place at 3 & 8pm except where noted.

Sept. 16 - 23: North Shore Acappella
Sept. 17 - 18: Gloria Gaynor
Sept. 17: White Hut Cheeseburg Eating Contest, hosted by Major League Eating, 12pm;
Wheeler Dealers Q&A with Mike Brewer, 2pm
Sept. 19 - 20: Pure Prairie League
Sept. 21 - 23: The Cowsills
Sept. 24 - Oct. 2: Jon Stetson, 11am, 1 & 6:30pm
Sept. 24: Masters of Music, 3pm; Patrick Tobin, 8pm
Sept. 25: Livio Gravini & The Free Spirit Society, 8pm
Sept. 26 - 29: Stephen Bishop
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2: Mark Farner
Oct. 2: Morgan Page presents Electric Equinox – an EDM experience featuring Morgan Page, Cazzette and Jayceeoh, 6:30pm

CENTENNIAL EVENTS & FEATURES

Eastern States Exposition Centennial Exhibit: A Century of Greatness, sponsored by Uncommon USA
Young Building • Daily, 10am - 10pm

The story of Eastern States Exposition retold in photography, memorabilia and artifacts from the past century, featuring historic items from the Exposition’s archives, including trophies and ribbons, pennants, advertising vehicles, posters and more, plus letters from former U.S. presidents, a replica of the famed Skyride, Storrowton Village on a small scale, Brooks’ family possessions donated by the late Grace Brooks Knibbs, granddaughter of Exposition founder, Joshua L. Brooks, and much more.

See the evolution of the fairgrounds and prominent icons of yesteryear – a depiction of the infamous Skyride, the legendary performers that once graced the Storrowton Music Tent and a never-before-seen display on the Exposition’s former Racetrack, featuring a fully restored 1937 Chevy Coupe, driven by #43 Bill Greco.

CARS, CARS, CARS

Each week at The Big E brings a new group of collector, classic and custom cars that will line the grounds for car enthusiasts of all ages to enjoy. Shows include: The Antique Tractor Show, Sept. 17; Mark’s Classic Cruise Day, sponsored by Mark’s Auto Parts of East Granby, Conn., Sept. 18; Pioneer Valley GTO Association, Sept. 22; AACA Connecticut Valley Region, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1; and Paul Mennett’s “Cruisin’ New England,” on the Avenue of States, Sept. 25, and the xfinity arena, Oct. 2. All shows are 8am - 4pm, weather permitting.

Don’t wave the white flag yet! Velocity channel star, Mike Brewer of Wheeler Dealers will be on the grounds for opening weekend of The Big E, Sept. 16-18. Brewer will help ignite the Fair’s 100th anniversary festivities as the MC of The Big E Bash, Sept. 16 at 7pm. Catch him again at the Court of Honor Stage, Sept. 17 at 2pm for a special Wheeler Dealers Q&A. You will also have a chance to see the Velocity star at the Avenue car shows and in the Grande Mardi Gras Parade, Sept. 17 and 18, and co-hosting the Collector Car Experience, Sept. 18, with fellow Velocity star, Chris Jacobs of Overhaulin’.

Collector Car Experience is back for its second year, Sept. 18 at 2pm. Last year, thousands gathered for the inaugural show, which received widespread accolades for being an entertaining automotive event like no other. This year’s show features a lineup of 25 cars from the 1900s to present – covering a broad range of Brass Era cars to Lamborghinis, Ferraris and many more. All car shows are weather permitting.

The Giant Turkey Leg grilled to perfection
The Giant Turkey Leg grilled to perfection

FAIR FOOD

The food is the hit of the Fair! From our signature desserts, The Big E Cream Puff and Big Éclair, to The Big E Craz-E Burger, it’s time to dig in! There are hundreds of food locations on the grounds, from sit-down dining at Storrowton Tavern to grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and deep-fried “everything,” you’re sure to find something to please your palate.

New food locations include the Wurst Haus, by the Student Prince, with Bavarian pretzels, Munich Corn Dogs, the “German Giant” (18” bratwurst), fried Camembert, oompah music, handcrafted German beers served in a souvenir “boot,” on Commonwealth Avenue. Plus, The Deep South Company, featuring po’ boys, chicken ‘n waffles, fried green tomatoes, BBQ and southern-style cocktails in the former Italian Pavilion. New foods to try include a mint & peanut butter soft serve ice cream; Navajo Indian Tacos served folded in fried dough; funnel cake fries; chocolate and bacon-covered fries; blueberry pierogi sundae; maple waffle breakfast sandwich; sweet potato dessert fries; a centennial frozen banana; and more.

Here Piggy-Piggy! Fascinated with a pig and its babies at Farm-A-Rama at The Big E.
Here Piggy-Piggy! Fascinated with a pig and its babies at Farm-A-Rama.

AGRICULTURE

The Big E is known nationwide for its impressive agricultural showcase. Open show exhibitors as well as FFA and 4-H youth from across the country travel to the Fair to participate in the largest livestock show in the East and native produce competitions. See who will take home the blue ribbon!

In the Mallary Complex, get a glimpse into life on the farm with cows, sheep, goats, llamas and other livestock throughout the Fair. Watch animal showmanship and see a variety of agricultural demonstrations from spinning and weaving demonstrations in the Fiber Nook to milking cows in the new Milking Parlor, sponsored by the Mass. Dairy Promotion Board. In this improved exhibit, see modern milking practices in action and learn about how cows are cared for by your Massachusetts dairy farmers. Learn everything you need to know about dairy products from the Singing Refrigerator. The food artistry team of Jim Victor and Marie Pelton returns to The Big E to create a masterpiece made from 600 lbs. of butter donated by Agrimark/Cabot Creamery dubbed “Centennial Milk Wagon.”

Award-winning wines from The Big E Northeast Gold Wine Competition and cheeses from The Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition are on display in The Big E’s Wine & Cheese Barn. Fairgoers (21+ with a valid ID) can sample and buy wines, ciders, and cheeses from throughout New England and New York.
4-H Milk Booth & Apple Booth

Supporting a cause has never tasted this good! Stop by the 4-H Milk Booth located under the Mallary Rotunda to indulge in an old-fashioned chocolate, vanilla or strawberry “Jetshake.” If you’re feeling like having a light, healthy snack, the 4-H Apple Booth in Farm-A-Rama will hit the spot!

Enjoy Farm-A-Rama in a whole different way as we debut the visually-stunning Big Y Farm to Family Table Experience, an immersive environment that includes Hood’s Heart of It All Dining Room. This exhibit highlights how food comes from the farm to the family plate.Join ‘The Naturals’ as they bring you through the whimsical, educational journey of food as it comes from the Farm to your Family’s table.Components are: Lucy the Milking Cow, New England Agriculture Pioneers and interviews with local farmers. Also, the chick hatchery, sow and litter, Hallamore Clydesdales, honey bees and our new pollinator garden, outside.


THE $15,000 BIG E "OPENING NIGHT" HUNTER CLASSIC

Horse Shows

Saddle up and hold on tight! Take a seat in the grandstands of the Coliseum to watch elegant horses trot, canter and gallop toward the blue ribbon in the Eastern States Exposition Horse Show, a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Heritage Competition, sponsored by Williams Distributing. The Hunter Show and USHJA Zone 1 HOTY Finals, Sept. 14-18; $15,000 Hunter Classic, Sept. 16; Saddlebreds, Hackneys, Morgans, Friesians, and Open Classes Sept. 22-25; Northeast Six Shooters Demonstration, Sept. 27; UConn Drill Team Oct. 1; Cool Dogs Production, Sept. 28-30 & Oct.2; The Big E Draft Horse Show, Sept. 29-Oct. 2; $35,000 Six-Horse Hitch Showdown, Oct. 2; and the 4-H Horse Show, Sept. 21-24.

The Eastern States Exposition Horse Show was granted the USEF Heritage Competition Designation on July 1. This prestigious designation places the show with an elite group of Federation licensed competitions that have been established for a long period of time and have made substantial contributions toward the development and promotion of the sport.

ESE Equestrian Hall of Fame Presentation

On Sept. 24 at 6pm, The Big E honors the third inductee into the Eastern States Exposition Equestrian Hall of Fame. The Exposition’s Equestrian Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to recognize individuals and equines who have demonstrated excellence in their discipline, made significant achievements in the competition world and have made outstanding contributions to the sport and equestrian community. Nominations are open to actively competing or retired horses as well as individuals who have been affiliated with Eastern States Exposition at year-round shows or Big E horse shows. Visit TheBigE.com/EquestrianHOF for a list of past recipients.

Quilt Competition at The Big E is just one of hundreds of contests
Quilt Competition at The Big E is just one of hundreds of contests

NEW ENGLAND CENTER

Home of the Creative Arts, 4-H Clubs, Food Contests and more! Stop by and see what fun, family entertainment is taking place on the New England Center Community Stage and watch creativity at work at the Demonstration Corral. See radio host Howie Carr broadcast live Sept. 22, 3 to 7pm.

Do you have a passion for the arts? Whether you have the talent or like to admire the creativity of others, visit the New England Center to see the display of entries and winners from the Exposition’s annual Creative Arts contests – photography, sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, beading, decorative paintings on fabric, hand weaving and other needlework entries and winners. New this year: The Big E Birthday Hat Decorating Contest, Sept. 16; Plein Air Painting,

Area bakers and decorators show off their culinary talent in the quest to take home the blue ribbon! The Big E will host the Gold Medal Cookie Contest, Sept. 20 at 10am. The Domino Sugar Cake Decorating Competition and Fabulous Cupcake Contest take place Sept. 22 and 29, respectively. Entries will be on display noon to 8pm during each Domino contest. The Mass. Maple Syrup Dessert Contest will be held Sept. 27 at 10am.

STORROWTON VILLAGE

Storrowton Village Museum will take you back in time with its reconstructed, 19th century New England Village surrounding the peaceful Village green. The Fair will be hosting special activities on the green, such as 19th century crafts of broom making, tinsmithing, chair making and paper marbling as well as pottery and antique tool demonstrations, children’s games and tours of historic buildings. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to meet the 2016 Special Olympics Massachusetts National Games Team and learn more about the Special Olympics on the Green Oct. 2, 10:30am to 5pm.

Entertainment in the Village

Come to the Storrowton Village Gazebo to see the Mitchell Marionettes’ Barnum & Baloney Circus, sponsored by Sleepy’s, daily at 11am, 2 and 6:30pm. (No 2pm show on Oct. 2.)

The Bronze Ambassadors, bell ringers from Vermont, join us for a special performance on the Village Green, Sept. 24 at 1 and 3pm. The Village Green will also serve as a stage for numerous marching bands from various states throughout the course of the Fair.


Maine, Vermont and Connecticut State Building cupolas at the Big E

AVENUE OF STATES

Only at The Big E can you visit all six New England States without leaving the fairgrounds. The Avenue of States captures the best each state has to offer, from traditions to music, foods and more. The uniqueness of each building is what makes the Avenue one of the most popular attractions at the Fair every year.

The Avenue celebrates the fall season on Harvest New England Day, Sept. 30 from 10am - 7pm. The lawns of the state buildings will be overflowing with native products and specialty vendors.Fairgoers are encouraged to play the “Passport” game while exploring the buildings. Participants need to get their Passport stamped in all six state buildings and report back to the registration tent before 5pm for the chance to win special prizes.

SHOPPING

The buildings and byways of The Big E are filled with shops and vendors to satisfy anyone’s shopping needs. Treat yourself to something special, buy gifts for family and friends or start (and finish) your holiday shopping. Choose from crafts and souvenirs to items from around the world.

In the Better Living Center, find everything from fine jewelry to the latest hair accessories, kitchen gadgets or unique items for your pet. Watch a demonstration and be amazed at how some of the products work. You’ll find everything you could possibly need, from clothes to blenders, all under one roof.

As you make your way around the fairgrounds, stop by the numerous outdoor shops to find a unique variety of items. Need a new shed, garage or hot tub? We have those outside too. Hampden Avenue, the Carriage House and Craft Common are full of beautifully created crafts. You’ll find jewelry of all types, artwork, piggy banks, dolls, pottery, bird houses and more.

The Storrowton Village Shops are a great place to start your holiday shopping. The Gift Shop in the Phillips House carries colorful fall scarves and accents, novelty dish towels, music boxes, old-time aprons, bicycle bells, an array of jewelry and more. After your tour of the Potter Mansion, stop in the Christmas Shop and Halloween Shop! Storrowton’s Yankee Candle Shop is also close by on the lower level of the Grange Building.

The International Plaza in the Young Building has unique and rich cultural amusements, home décor, and keepsakes from India, Ecuador, China, and Thailand right here at the Fair.

Buy Advance Discount Tickets & Save

Advance discount tickets and Midway Magic vouchers are available online at TheBigE.com and at The Big E Box Office now through Sept. 14 or at Big Y® World Class Market® Aug. 25 through Sept. 14. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-12. Advance Midway Magic vouchers are $23, valid any one day Mon. – Fri. or exchange for 24 ride coupons Sat. & Sun.

The Big E offers many ways to save with special dates and special offers for military and veterans, including:

Be A Kid For A Day – everyone pays the children’s admission of just $10
My Big Y Day at The Big E – Get your exclusive $6 Opening Day tickets only at Big Y® World Class Markets®.
Military Appreciation Day, sponsored by VA New England Healthcare System
Active duty and retired military personnel – Free with ID
Dependents of active duty military personnel – Free with ID
Veterans (no dependents) – Free with DD-214 or proof of membership to any veterans’organization
Six-After-Five – Admission is only $6 after 5pm Mon. – Thurs.
Senior Days – Age 60 and over just $12 Mon. – Thurs.

Big E Hours

Gates are open from 8am – 10pm. Buildings and exhibits open at 10am, Storrowton Village, its Yankee Candle Shop and Avenue of States are open until 9pm. The Village Craft Area is open until 10pm. The North American Midway is open Sun. – Fri., 11am to 10pm, Sat., 10am to 11pm. For tickets, show times and detailed information, visit TheBigE.com.

Kasandra Turowsky and  Michael Rodgers of Springfield take a selfie on the giant slide at The Big E.
Kasandra Turowsky and Michael Rodgers of Springfield take a selfie on the giant slide at The Big E.