Fall in New England means a few things: cooler temps, the leaves start to change color, and The Big E starts! It’s a 17-day fair that started over 100 years ago as an agricultural fair but has expanded to represent each of the New England states, plus there’s crazy food, vendors, and rides—everything you’d expect at a state fair but on steroids.
The last time I went was in 2019, and reading back on that post, I laughed when I read:
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.The Big E (2019)
“Next year” was 2020 and it was the first time in the fair’s history they had to cancel it. The Big E was back last year, but I didn’t feel super comfortable going, but Josh and I knew we both wanted to go together this year.
Josh already has Thursdays off, so I took the day off from work so we could go during the week. (It’s insanely crowded on the weekends, so it’s a bit easier to go during the week.) I got to his house a little after 1:00 p.m. and then we headed over to the fair grounds. We went the back roads way to avoid the main highway, and it was the easiest I’ve ever gotten there; it took about a half hour. The only traffic we hit was on the main avenue to turn into the parking area, but there were a few cops in the street directing the cars.
Once we were inside, our first stop was the Big Yellow Slide. It was the only ride I wanted to go on since I hadn’t been down it since I was in elementary school; it was the same case for Josh, so he was in.
I didn’t get any photos/videos of us going down because I didn’t want to drop my phone going down the slide, but Josh and I went next to each other on our burlap bags, and it was so much fun.
The next stop was getting beer near Storrowton Village. There’s always a big tent at the tavern with all of the best fall beers. Josh and I both got Shipyard Pumpkinheads. Then we headed down the Avenue of States into the state houses. There’s one house for every New England state, and each house has things native/related to its respective state.
The state houses are usually pretty crowded, so I don’t really stop for anything, it’s more to just look at the vendors. One thing we noticed was that each state house had it’s own maple syrup, well, okay, maybe not Rhode Island, but the rest of the houses did.
Our favorite state house for beer is obviously Connecticut, which we went back to later when we got dinner.
After the state houses, we went to the New England Center to get an eclair, which we spilt. It’s always a must-have for me to get at The Big E.
Then another round of beers at the New England Craft Pub. I got a Carlson Orchards Harvard Harvest cider, and Josh got an Octoberfest from Two Roads, well, he actually got one and a half of it since the keg kicked halfway during the first pour so the guy gave it to him for free in addition to a full cup.
Our next stop was Farm-a-Rama and the Mallary Complex to see some animals, and we stopped in the Better Living Center and the Young Building, too; those last two are basically in-person infomercials. We just walked through to see the ridiculous things they were selling.
The animals in Farm-a-Rama are more like a petting zoo while the animals in the Mallary Complex are ones that are shown in competitions. (In the Farm-a-Rama building in 2016, I got to pet a bunch of Golden Retrievers with the American Kennel Club, and I’ve yet to see them again when I’ve gone. It’s devastating.)
And Josh managed to befriend one of the alpacas. (I kept telling him to get away from it because it could spit on him, and he kept telling me camels are the ones that spit.)
It was close to 5:00 p.m. at this point, so we headed back to the Connecticut building to get dinner. On the way into the building, there was a state trooper outside with a K9, and he must have noticed how I was looking at the dog because he was like, “Yessss” and nodded toward the dog, meaning we could pet him. I asked what the dog’s name was, and he motioned to a woman sitting on a bench next to him who filled me in on all of the details of the dog; she most likely had already asked all of the questions I was going to.
We both got Mac Attacks from Bear’s BBQ—the same thing we got at the Hartford Yard Goats game this summer—and shared a table with a couple who definitely had been partaking in the Connecticut beer garden for a while. They were nice, asked us where we were from, how long we had been dating, but Josh and I quickly ate and moved along.
We got our last beers of the night from the Connecticut building: a Baby Kittens from Fat Orange Cat for Josh, and a Sour Pickle Ale from CT Valley Brewing for myself. Yes, I got a pickle beer—that came with a pickle spear! As we were leaving the Avenue of States, we got caught up in the daily parade at 6:00 p.m., so we stood off to the side to watch it. There are a few floats that go through and throw beads, and Josh caught two strands.
And then we went to the Coliseum to watch some sort of horse competition that we got really involved with. I honestly couldn’t tell you what they were exactly competing for, but the horses looked very majestic.
We sat up in the stands for a little while; admission was free, so there were a bunch of people scattered around the seats.
Our next stop was the Midway, and along the way, Josh got a big corndog. I had never been in the Midway before—it’s where all of the rides and games are—and I never want to go back again. Waaaay too many kids and teenagers for my liking.
Our very last stop before leaving was getting fried dough and a bottle of water. I needed something else to eat before we left, and fried dough is always a must.
I feel like there’s a fine line of eating just enough and eating too much that it causes heartburn. There’s so much food at The Big E, including a lot of crazy food, but I tend to stick with “normal” food and not eating too much, especially since I’m known to get bad heartburn.
Josh and I headed out around 8:00 p.m., and we got back to my condo after 8:30 p.m. There’s always no traffic leaving The Big E, so it was easy to leave. I think we both had over 15,000 steps for the day and were starting to get tired by then. I checked the website, and the total attendance for Thursday was 97,257. I don’t have a great concept of numbers but it didn’t get super crowded until after 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.; when we were there in the afternoon, it was fairly easy to move around.
The only thing I could have done differently would be to remember there’s a giant mozzarella stick there and find it. Maybe next year.