Fall in New England is a big thing, and one of the big must-dos is going to The Big E. It’s formally known as the Eastern States Exposition, but that’s just a mouthful to say, so everyone calls it The Big E. It’s been around for over 100 years, and it started as an agricultural fair and represents each of the New England states. There’s crazy food, rides, vendors, basically everything you’d expect at a state fair, but it’s like a state fair on steroids. Plus a big yellow slide. (The grounds also has other events year round.)
Oh, and it’s where I ran a 5K a few weeks ago.
I’ve been to The Big E a handful of times. I went when I was a baby (which I don’t remember), I may have gone in elementary school (?), I definitely went in middle school, and then my trips to The Big E fell off until 2016 and 2017 when I went back-to-back years. I didn’t go last year but was excited to go this year. Plus I got a comp ticket from the 5K race, so obviously I had to go.
Five of us went Friday afternoon—myself, two co-workers, my boss, and his wife—all taking half-days from work. It took us about a half hour to get there, from one side of the river to the other, and traffic was heavy but not terrible. By the time we all got to the fair grounds, it was around 12:45 p.m., and our first stop was the Avenue of States.
Each New England state has its own state house on the Avenue, and it’s always cool to walk through each one and try food from that state or see the vendors.
After walking through the New Hampshire house, we headed to the Connecticut house to get beer and lunch at Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, the place that I’ve raved about before at Yard Goats games. The beer was called Fuzzy Baby Ducks from New England Brewing Co.
I inhaled the pulled pork and mac & cheese in five minutes, and once we were all done, we house-hopped to see what the other beer options were. We ended up at the Massachusetts house, and there I got The Great Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge Brewing Company. They put maple sugar on top, which made it so much better.
We sat for a little while at the area of picnic tables by the beer garden before going back through the houses. We walked through the Massachusetts house, and then made our way back up the Avenue through Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine. In one of the houses we got cider donuts, and we also stopped for Finnish pancakes and someone got pizza.
The beer garden for Maine was outside the back of the building—most of the houses have an extra tent out of the back because there are so many vendors now—and I got Nancy from Allagash Brewing Company. That one only came in an 8oz pour, and I didn’t realize that until the guy handed it to me, so it looked like I had half a beer. It was good, though.
Then we went on a quest for perogies, and after getting lost trying to find them, we eventually found the vendor. I got potato and cheese ones.
By this time, it was getting close to when we had to leave, so I stopped by one of the buildings to get eclairs to go. My dad loves them, and when I go with my parents, it’s always one of the first stops we make.
We didn’t go into the rest of the buildings, like the Better Living Building (it’s basically like dozens of infomericals in person) or Farm-a-rama, which has farm animals, like pigs and little goats. We didn’t get to go down the big yellow slide, either 😦 ; we also got two tickets for that from the race, so it would have been a perfect excuse to do so. On the way back to the exit, I asked if we could at least go into the building in the back where some of the animals and agricultural demos are. The animals in that building are from farms/families, and it’s mostly goats and cows, and they do showings in a little arena in the building. And there’s always a butter sculpture outside.
We left around 4:30 p.m., and I wished I ate more than I did, but at least I got to go to The Big E this year. I definitely think we’re going back next year and maybe go a little earlier in the day so we can spend more time there.
I would have liked to have gotten some fried dough, and I also saw a tater tot truck that looked really good (I heart tater tots). Oh, and, we so have to go down the slide next year, too.
According to the website, Friday’s total attendance was 89,269. At least we didn’t go Saturday, which was the fair’s all-time attendance record with 176,544 people! (You always try to go during the week because it’s a little less crowded haha.)
Do you go to any fairs in the fall? What’s your favorite part about fairs?