Half past Labor Day and continuing thru the start of the return to school and then on to Yom Kippur and forward to Election Season comes a delightful pause to our start of Autumn to all affectionately known as the Big E- New England’s Great State Fair – held in the beautiful hamlet of West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Yes- alike Swallows returning to Capistrano – I happily join the throng in this two week ritual of yearly return. During my youth, the fair meant seeing exotic animals, watching the goats and cows being judged, seeing a man in a refrigerated glass booth sculpt a butter calf, visiting the reproductions of the New England State Capitol buildings ( Connecticut being the best) and of course tasting the onslaught of fair food-my favs- the fully loaded Maine baked potato, currently costing 6 bucks per spud and then a frosty thick Vermont made Chocolate Milkshake.
During my youth, the fair was more focused on “homemade items- think jams and jellies and regional delicacies- think Connecticut raised eggs and and Franklin Farm fresh mushrooms. I recall fondly my father, Jack Frydman, being asked to walk up on the CT fair stage and learn how to cook a perfect CT Egg omelet- sorry to say – that type of Fair-ness doesn’t exist anymore and like Christmas- the Big E is more commercial in nature- think BIG E Creampuffs and Chocolate Eclairs and selling selling selling – “as seen on TV-”
However- not to worry- belay that not all is lost-in the Horse coliseum one can still see dairy cows being judged, horses jumping over fences in a coordinated assault and lambs being sheared. Venturing to the Farm-A-Rama barn building- one can meet dog breeders showcasing their breed- like my friend Darleen Plourde of Whispering Pines Kennels with her beautiful Siberian Huskies, watch baby pigs lazily sleep throughout the day or take in the antics of a wayward goat eating everything in site from paper to hay – and don’t forget the Colossal pumpkins that will make perfect Jack O’Lanterns come this October.
And so I am here again today- The Big E, the largest fair in the Northeast and fifth largest in North America, is ready to kick off its 99th year with big talent, phenomenal food, animals, rides, shopping and more! The 17-day event will feature a Mardi Gras Parade, The Big E Circus Spectacular, top name talent like Jacob Whitesides, Alabama and even DJ Paris Hilton! 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 will travel to the Fair to participate in the largest livestock show in the East and various native produce competitions. See who will take home the blue ribbon!
Big E hours are 8am – 10pm. Buildings and exhibits open at 10am, Storrowton Village, the 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.
There is something for all ages to enjoy at the BIG E Fair, Sept. 18-Oct. 4, in West Springfield, Mass.
For tickets, show times and detailed information, visit TheBigE.com.