Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fiber Festival is Back!

For the love of fiber! In two weeks, the Mallary Complex will be draped floor to ceiling in everything from wool and yarn to clothing items, quilts and blankets, rugs, looms, spinning wheels and more! The Fiber Festival of New England is back and getting ready to celebrate its 5th year with a weekend full of activities, shopping and fun to promote the use of wool and other natural fibers and related products.

Eastern States Exposition and the New England Sheep and Wool Growers Association co-produce the event that features more than 175 exhibitors from throughout the country, the Fiber Fashion Show and Fleece Sale, along with many workshops, demonstrations and other activities.

Must See: Terri Drounin-Guerrette, Fiber Festival volunteer and expert in the art of silk reeling, will show us the process of how silk fiber is made on Saturday. She’ll cover all the steps, from soaking silkworm cocoons in water to reeling.

Each cocoon is made up of one thread that is only about 2 to 3 denier (four and a half million yards per pound). The trick is finding it – and Guerrette can do it with ease. The Exposition’s Creative Arts Coordinator, Jane Chapman, said it is an absolute treat to see her at work. “I was floored the first time I saw her working in the New England Center.”

Fiber Fun: Bartlettyarns, Inc., a popular exhibitor at The New England Fiber Festival (booth 151/152 west), has a very “ewenique” history. For starters, it is the nation's oldest continuously operating wool mill. The company, in business since 1821, also spins its yarn using a mule. Spinning mules were extensively used in the late 18th century. During that time, a typical cotton mill would have over 60 mules. Now, Bartlettyarns is home to the last operating spinning mule in the USA.

Here’s another fun fact about Bartlettyarns –The Mill, located in Harmony, Maine, has a slightly creepy looking exterior. So creepy looking in fact, that it was actually featured in the 1990 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, “Graveyard Shift.”

Throughout the event, exhibitors and attendees will be able to connect online via Facebook, as well as on Twitter and Instagram. Search #NEFiberFest on social to see what everyone is saying and join in the conversation!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Private Party at The Big E!

Imagine… a private party, catering to suit your taste buds, VIP wine and cheese tasting, a reserved spot on a Mardi Gras Float and all the fun you could possible ask for… at The Big E. That would be awesome, huh?

Well, we can make that happen at our all new Hospitality Pavilion!

Birthday in September? What better way to spend the day! How about a fun company outing or corporate event? The Hospitality Pavilion can be tailored to meet your needs.

Speaking as an avid fairgoer, nothing compares to the atmosphere you find at The Big E. While crowds might make traveling with large groups challenging, the Hospitality Pavilion provides a great meeting space for parties, convenient eating location, not to mention the craz-E discounts and benefits!

So, one thing you might be wondering, how can the buffet served at the Hospitality Pavilion possibly live up to the vast selection of food from around the grounds? Because as we all know – The Big E is the place to eat.

Well, to answer your question, the food at the Hospitality Pavilion is exceptional! Thanks to the help of Log Rolling, of the Log Cabin/Delaney House, the selection and quality of food offered will more than satisfy you and your guests.

Here are a few options – the Big Top Breakfast Buffet with an omelet bar; the classic BiggiE Buffet of endless hot dogs and hamburgers; chicken, ribs, steak and shrimp with all the fixin’s from the West Side Griller; or customize it to your liking with carving stations, dessert, a New England Clam Bake and more!

After your gathering, roam the grounds and enjoy the Big E experience! Don’t forget to check out the shows on the Court of Honor stage and xfinity arena, visit all of New England on the Avenue of States, travel back in time at Storrowton Village and so much more.

Wedding reception, family reunion, Jack & Jill party, anniversary, conference or even a pre-concert gathering – reserve your date at the Hospitality Pavilion today!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Big E's Burgers

The Big E's Craz-E Burger
It’s National Hamburger Day! To celebrate, let’s talk about a few of the unique burgers you can find at The Big E.

In case you haven’t noticed, we aren’t your typical hamburger kinda place. A short walk around the grounds will give you a good idea why. Like with all great Fair food, we tend to push the envelope a little on what is considered “normal.” Of course we have your classic burger with ground beef, pickles, lettuce and tomato, but this is The Big E - there is also the opportunity for some bold food choices!  

Of course, The Big E Craz-E Burger wins the title of “Most Popular Burger.” It is a bacon cheeseburger brought to a whole new level – served between two halves of a grilled glazed donut. Would you expect anything less from The Big E’s signature sandwich?

The concoction with a sweet and salty flavor blast was first added to the menu in 2009 and has been a hit ever since. At the 2013 Fair, The Big EZ CafĂ© sold a whopping 16,000 burgers – almost 1,000 every day!

White Hut's Waffle Burger
Runner-up in the popularity contest goes to White Hut for their Waffle Burger. The sandwich consists of two waffles, two burger patties and bacon and cheese in the middle. I have yet to try it, but being a big fan of White Hut – this burger is at the top of my “To Eat List” for this year’s Fair.

Now, we also can’t forget about the Wild Game Burgers sold at Yankee Boy and The International Lobster House. Some of their current menu items and burger meat of years past include bison, elk, Cajun alligator, Alaskan salmon, wild boar, Aussie kangaroo and ostrich.

Alligator Burger & Kangaroo Burger from Yankee Boy
 Photo credit:
I haven’t been adventurous enough to try to Wild Game Burgers, but if you're curious to see what people think, check out this article from ABC40.

And during your Big E trip this fall, make sure to get yourself one of these burgers – or aspire to try them all!

The dates for the 2014 Big E are September 12-28! Be sure to follow us on social media to be the first to receive special fairtime announcements!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What is Cow Power?

New Eastern States Exposition logo
Last week, Eastern States Exposition held its Annual Meeting in Storrowton’s Carriage House. It was a day packed with special announcements, a look at what’s in store for 2014 and a celebration of the Exposition’s accomplishments this past year.

The day’s events included an early morning press conference, trustee meeting, luncheon (provided by the wonderful staff at Storrowton Tavern) and the presentation of the Agricultural Adventurers Award. During the press conference, we announced the Exposition’s regional economic impact of an astonishing $479 million and officially unveiled the new Eastern States Exposition logo!

During the luncheon, the prestigious Agricultural Adventurers Award was presented to the Audet Family’s Blue Spruce Farm, located in Bridport, Vermont.

Dick Nickless, Chairman of the Agricultural Adventurers Committee, introduced the recipients. “You’ve heard me say many times that the Agricultural Adventurers Award is for innovation and pioneering, with the recipients having made significant contributions to the agricultural revolution,” Dick said. “The award winners this year have even surpassed these goals. The farm, has been, and is now, extremely entrepreneurial and has never seen nor heard of an idea they haven’t explored,” he said.

Blue Spruce Farm is committed to experimenting with renewable energy and best known for pioneering “Cow Power.” The farm also supplies Cabot Creamery with milk to make Cabot cheddar cheese – about 100,000 pounds of milk every day. The Audets even brought us some samples of Cabot cheese. It was delicious.

Now, what is Cow Power? Basically the entire farm and about 400 homes in the community are run by electricity generated from cow manure. It’s pretty cool process. All manure from the farm is collected and pumped into two 14-foot deep, 600,000 gallon “bio-digesters.” The naturally occurring methane gases collect at the top. That methane gas is then used to power generators that push enough electricity into the grid for hundreds of homes in the community.

In addition to cow power, the farm has a wind turbine that generates 165,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year – about enough to power 25 homes – and will host a 2 megawatt solar farm on their land this fall.

Impressive, huh? And this explanation is only scratching the surface of the Audet’s eco-friendly operation. I also haven’t mentioned that this is a multi-generational family business. Out of the 25 employees on the farm, 12 of them are Audets.

From left: ESE President & CEO Eugene J. Cassidy,
Eugene, Marie and Norman Audet, and
ESE Chairman of the Board, Donald R. Chase.

“This is really a story about family,” Marie Audet said upon accepting the award. “It’s about the strength of family and character that was instilled from early on and its fearlessness and making good choices and seeing them through.”

The more we can share, the more people understand that farming is still hard work. Maybe we don’t do it perfectly, but we are doing it better, and the more we know, the more we do. We’re evolving like the rest of society and we are doing a much better job of feeding people a sustainable food,” she said.

When asked what made Blue Spruce Farm stand out, Dick said, “Everything, everything! They have been so entrepreneurial and so innovative and they haven’t seen any research that they haven’t played with. They even work with algae for making diesel fuel. They’re taking some left-overs from today to put through the digester and make electricity. It’s just a terrific farm.”

The Audets are clearly leaders in the agricultural revolution with renewable energy and have since inspired other Vermont dairy businesses to do the same. Vermont now has 17 dairy farms utilizing bio-digesters, giving the state more digesters per capita than any other in the US.

“We’re really proud to be dairy producers,” Marie said. “Dairy is one of those foods that’s going to be there in the future to feed a growing population. It can be produced in a way that is good for the planet, for the community – we provide jobs – and it’s a good family thing to do.”

On behalf of the Exposition, congratulations to the Audet family! There could not be a more deserving recipient of this award. We look forward to seeing your future research in renewable energy!

Want to learn more about Cow Power? Check out our press release and their website!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Weekend at the Circus

Melha Shrine Circus Parade
There is something charming and nostalgic about the circus. It is ageless entertainment for the whole family. Apart from The Big E’s Circus Spectacular, I have never been to a classic three-ring circus that I can remember, so I had a great time checking out the Melha Shrine Circus last weekend.

It was Melha’s 60th year, so we wanted to help them do it up big. In anticipation for the event, I went over to the Coliseum to take some pictures of the set-up. The cheerful environment was contagious – everyone was extremely friendly and excited to be there. I got to meet some Shriners clowns (behind the makeup) and also a few of the performers, including the tigers and their trainer who came all the way from Texas.

And let me tell you, those tigers are treated like kings. A lot of people seem to have a misconception of animals in the show business, but the animals I have encountered while working at The Big E are completely pampered. They have first-class living quarters, even nicer than my own animals I have on the farm. After all, they are pets and their owners love them.

Anyways, later that evening a parade was held to kick off the first showing of the circus. The route went along Memorial Avenue from ESE Gate 9 to Gate 5 and then into the Coliseum. There was a great turnout and luckily it was the first beautiful day West Springfield has seen in a while.

Piccadilly Circus kids in front of
Storrowton Village Museum's Meetinghouse
The circus life is fascinating. It is made up of generations upon generations of families. Mom, dad and the kids all travel and perform together. So, while they were here last Friday, some of the Piccadilly Circus kids took a tour in Storrowton. I was able to shoot some pictures of them in the historic village and then went over to the Coliseum afterwards to check out a special presentation of the show.

While I was sitting up in the audience taking photos, one of the performers, Johnny Rockett, came into the crowd. He was running up and down the grandstands high-fiving circus goers as he went. I thought, “What a great photo opportunity,” and started snapping pictures when he was several feet away. Before I knew it, I was being plucked from my seat and dragged into the spotlight.

If you haven’t seen him before, Johnny does a clown-like comedic routine with a hairdo that sticks up about a foot high. I saw him perform last year at The Big E, so although his act had changed, I had a pretty good idea what my fate would be from the beginning.

Johnny Rockett with his two lovely assistants
Another male victim and I had to mimic what Johnny did and then assist with his plate spinning act – both of us in maid outfits with feather dusters. Johnny stuffed balloons in the guys shirt and gave him a blonde wig so we would match.

His act was quite challenging to do in my work attire, especially since I was wearing high heels that kept piercing into the plastic matting on the ground. Lucky for me, the Marketing department came down to document the moment. Admittedly though, it was really fun. I left after my 15 minutes of fame and ended up going back to see the full show Saturday evening.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Johnny Rockett and the beautiful Tina Winn, Galaxy Girl. Both have been Big E entertainment icons in years past and will be coming back to The Big E Circus Spectacular again this year for an exciting performance together – Cybertrons.

Normally the duo performs the stunt outside, but they expect it to be way more incredible under the Big Top. “It’s a spectacular thing – visually it’s a cool act, but I think it’s going to be at a whole different level in that tent,” Johnny said. “It’s completely different once it’s indoors, with the lighting and the smoke and the fireworks – it really is. I've personally never done it in a tent like that, so it will be new for me too.”

In a nutshell, the act consists of a motorcycle rotating a trapeze as it rides around on a circular platform rigging at high speed. “They've never had anything like that – they've never had an apparatus of that magnitude in that tent as part of a free show at The Big E. It is definitely going to leave a mark for sure,” Johnny said.

Galaxy Girl has worked here many times and I was lucky enough to get to work in the circus last year. So up until now, there’s been Galaxy Girl and there’s been Johnny Rockett but this will be the first time we’ll actually be teaming up together and doing something at The Big E,” he said.

Also joining Johnny and Tina in The Big E Circus Spectacular will be comedian Rob Torres, contortionist Kevin Sadrak, some acrobatic house cats and many more exciting acts to be announced!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The 1964-65 New York World's Fair

The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was one of the greatest and most historical events ever held in the United States. It is only fitting that The Big E, America’s Premier Exposition, brings the memory of the World’s Fair back to life for visitors of all ages to experience with a special 50th Anniversary exhibit at the Fair this September.

Being born in the 90s, I obviously never had the pleasure of attending the 64-65 World’s Fair, or any for that matter. Nowadays, nothing can even compare to the magnitude of that event in the US. The Big E is the only exposition that I’ve been to that would remotely resemble it. The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair ran for about 12 months of its two seasons, attracted 51,607,307 visitors and sat on over 647 acres of land in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens.

At the World’s Fair, visitors were exposed to the most diverse and extensive entertainment and education as well as the greatest technological innovations and predictions the world at that time had ever seen. Even fifty years later, the World’s Fair still remains synonymous with American culture of the 60s – even though colonies on the moon and jet packs have yet to come to fruition.

Since I was first told this exhibit would be in the Young building during The Big E, I felt the need to acquaint myself with the historic event. I am also a history nut so briefly familiarizing myself with the event turned into reading numerous articles and watching dozens of YouTube videos. The virtual experience got me so into it that I completely fangirled when my dad told me he had a model car featured in the General Motors’ “Futurama II” exhibit at the 1965 Fair.

The 1964-65 World’s Fair exhibit at The Big E will feature more than 250 pieces of souvenirs and artifacts from the Fair. A seven foot tall recreation of the “Unisphere,” will be the centerpiece along with a large amount of Ford’s World’s Fair memorabilia, including a scale model of the Ford Pavilion and an authentic 1965 Ford Mustang, the instantly popular car that Ford debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair.

In addition, displays will highlight the new technologies of the time, eating at the Fair, the Sinclair Dinoland and more! There will also be a unique film presentation featuring rare and never publicly screened home movie and commercial footage from the 1964 event.

The goal of the exhibit is to capture the fairgoer experience and create a nostalgic trip for those who visited the fair and for those who didn’t, the opportunity to see the significance of the World’s Fair for the first time. 

After we announced the exhibit on Monday, Big E fans shared their memories of the World’s Fair with us. Here are several of them.

“I was about 4 and have some vivid memories of it, including the Carousel of Progress, the dinosaurs, and It's A Small World. I look forward to seeing the exhibit at the Big E!” – Allison

“Went there on a field trip from Duggan Jr. High School with a good friend Douglas Johnson.” – Winslow

“I remember walking around there on a class trip. Wow! Long time ago.” – Shelley

“I went in '64 when I was 6 years old. My mom & dad had gone earlier and saw the "It's a Small World" exhibit and my mom said they had to go back so they could bring me. I have vivid memories of that display. I still have the record I got has a souvenir. Also, another item I remember well, is the Telephone where you could also see the person talking to you...amazing. There was also this money tank where you saw bills flying all around, I am not quite sure what it was for. One more thing, I decided I needed to use the parents' panicked as I went alone and they didn't know what had happened to me. Hopefully, the city of New York will stay in discussion and will not tear down the remains of some of the iconic structures. Some are slated to be destroyed in the near future.” – Patty

“Was there in 1965. An experience to say the least.” – Judy

“Bus to New York World's Fair out of Springfield. Huge crowds; long lines. Disney's It's a Small World, Michelangelo's Pieta, jade Budda on a chain as a souvenir. Looooong fun day.” – Ellen

“My dad took me, one of my favorite memes with him!! Thanks for this reminder!! <3” – Linda

“My husband says he had his first Amana Radar Range (first microwave) hotdog at the fair. He said a lot of people would not eat them.” – Barbra

Do you remember your trip to the World’s Fair?

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's Going on at ESE?

These past few weeks have been extremely busy. We have so much going on at ESE from our off-season events to getting ready for the Fair in September.

I know, I can hear you already – “let’s not rush summer.”

I agree – I love summer as much as the next person – but we are by no means rushing the days of warmer weather.

The thing is, we need the whole season to get ready for The Big E. As soon as the Fair is over, preparation for the next year begins. In fact, we already started the planning process for our 100th anniversary in 2016.

Currently, we are finalizing the entertainment lineup. It is looking incredible so far. There is something for everyone! We have just started announcing the entertainment and will release more information as it becomes available.

So, if you haven’t already heard, Little Big Town is coming to The Big E for the last Saturday of the Fair! This will be the second time the Grammy-winning quartet has played here – they performed on the same stage in 2009.

For those of you who don’t know Little Big Town, they are the reigning CMA & ACM Vocal Group of the Year, have sold 1.5 million records, received multiple Grammy, CMA and ACM awards and nominations and garnered an impressive collection of Top 10 Country hits including “Pontoon,” “Your Side of the Bed,” “Little White Church” and “Boondocks.” They also have a pretty great track record of putting on stellar concerts. Tickets went on sale today so get them while they last!

Another huge event we are preparing for is The Taste of Table & Vine. This is the second year ESE partnered with Table and Vine to host this event. Like The Big E, this year’s Taste will be bigger and better than before with more wine, beer, spirits and foods!

Let’s not forget about the 5K Grape Chase Road Race around the Exposition’s grounds! The first 700 people to register will also get commemorative merch. Let’s be serious, who doesn’t love free swag?

If that isn’t enough to make you want to grab your running shoes and start training, the fact that this is a charitable event should! All proceeds will benefit the West Springfield Parish Cupboard, the West Springfield Partnership for Education and The Big E Farm to Table Education Fund.

Join us & get tickets below!