Is there any better way to celebrate the start of fall than with a festival? When I heard that the Fairfield University Student Association was sponsoring a trip to the Big E Festival, which runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 2 in Springfield, Mass., I knew that I had to take advantage of it and go!
Formally known as The Eastern States Exposition, and often called “New England’s Great State Fair,” the Big E is a grand showcase of the six New England states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. To me, there is nothing better than fall in New England. With its colonial towns, fall foliage and rich history, the New England states are, in my opinion, the best place to spend the autumn months.
What I appreciated most about the Big E Festival was the diversity of culture showcased by each state. Each New England state has its own building in which the local culture was represented. These buildings are impressive replicas of the New England States’ original statehouses. Local restaurants, artisans, agriculturists and more came together to showcase the best of their state. The House of Massachusetts and Rhode Island had plenty of seafood samples to try, from lobster to clam chowder. The New Hampshire and Maine exhibitions focus greatly on the hiking, fishing and outdoor attractions. And, of course, I was partial to the Connecticut House, as it is the state that hosts our school!
Although, my favorite state exhibition had to be Vermont. As I stepped foot into the Vermont house, I immediately felt transported into the autumn season. When I imagine fall, I picture spending it in a state such as Vermont, surrounded by sprawling mountains and beautiful landscapes as I watch the leaves change colors.
This Vermont House was the building in which all the fall favorites could be found. The inside of the house was adorned with fall foliage and the walkways were lined with pumpkins and fall harvest items. From apple cider samples, to wood carvings, seasonal candles and soaps, there were plenty of fall favorites to go around. I tried some of the best maple fudge and enjoyed a homemade apple cider slush – something I have never tried before and ended up loving! It was the Ben and Jerry’s booth, of course, located outside the Vermont House, that put the state’s exhibition in the lead in my mind. Ben and Jerry’s was founded in Burlington, Vt., and has produced some of the best ice cream ever since. I was more than happy to sample some of their fall flavors at the Vermont House.
Though the state exhibitions were the main attraction of The Big E in my mind, there was plenty more to do. As I ventured further from the state houses, I stumbled upon loads of live entertainment, the craft corner, rides, food and even a petting zoo. I found myself laughing out loud as I watched live basketball and comedy shows. I spent hours browsing the craft booths, admiring the beautiful handmade treasures. In the craft corner, there was everything from knit sweaters, to clay creations, homemade signs, to jewelry and more. I was tempted to buy something from almost every booth I passed! I adored seeing all of the farm animals at the petting zoo, and watching as children had fun participating in camel rides.
The Big E truly has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy exploring the culture of the New England states, or are looking for a fun-filled day of rides and entertainment, the Big E is the place to go. I had a wonderful time kicking off the fall season at this festival and would highly recommend checking it out while it is still in town! It is open until Oct. 2, so be sure to grab some friends and check it out soon. Springfield is only a short trip away and this seasonal fair is a great take in.