Every year on the second Friday after Labor Day the Eastern States Exposition, better known as The Big E, opens and runs for seventeen days. The Big E is the largest agricultural fair in New England and each of the six New England states has a building on the fairgrounds to showcase the food and traditions of the state. Visiting the Vermont building, you’ll find Cabot cheese and maple syrup while in the Maine building you find lobster rolls, blueberry pie, and a baked potato that people wait in line for hours to purchase. Besides the food there are craft items, livestock, entertainment, vendors (anyone need a super chamois?), and various competitions. It really is a great way to welcome fall.
I don’t typically spend an entire day eating my way through New England’s offerings, and we didn’t work our way through a fraction of what the fair had to offer. This year The Big E had over 250 sandwich offerings in honor of the 250th anniversary of the invention of the sandwich. There is nothing that can’t be fried on The Big E fairgrounds, with offerings including fried jelly beans, fried Kool-Aid, fried Samoa Girl Scout cookies, fried cheesecake, and fried lasagna just to name a few. There’s also the “Craz-E” burger, a bacon cheeseburger with a buttered glazed donut for a bun. The fair has closed for the year, but I figured I could show you the offerings so that you can plan accordingly for next year. If you’re anywhere near the West Springfield, Massachusetts area next year, The Big E really is a can’t-miss experience. A word of advice: wear comfortable shoes (and pants with an expandable waistline probably wouldn’t hurt either).
Clam cakes from Kenyon’s Grist Mill in the Rhode Island building
Lobster roll in the Maine building, from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.
Baked potato from Billie’s Baked Potato stand. The Maine Potato Board offers baked potatoes in the Maine building, but to get one you have to wait in line outside the building for hours. Billie’s baked potatoes come with real cheese instead of the cheez-whiz that’s on the Maine potatoes, and there’s no hour-long wait for them.
A half sour pickle from a stand in the Storrowton Village area of the fairgrounds. Yes, they are so good that it warrants a photo.
I didn’t get a photo, but Lane and I did stop by the Opa Opa Saloon on the fairgrounds, run by the Opa Opa brewing company in Southampton MA. The saloon has great beer and a great atmosphere if you want to relax and take a break. Keep in mind that while there’s a lot of eating at the Big E, there is also a lot of walking. Bring a friend and an appetite and enjoy everything New England has to offer in the course of one day.