Friday, October 2, 2009

Storrowton Village at The Big E
A bit of Early Americana

One of my favorite parts of The Big E is Storrowton Village. It is just east of the Avenue of States and is an authentic 19th century community set around an old fashioned village green. About 80 years ago Helen Storrow (of Storrow Drive fame) was the chairperson of the Exposition’s Home department and she purchased various Early American properties around New England that were abandoned or going to be demolished. She had them moved, stone by stone, and reconstructed. There is a country store, a blacksmith shop, a one room schoolhouse, a meetinghouse, law office and three houses, all around the green with a gazebo. During the Fair the Village becomes a living museum, with people dressed in 19th century attire who talk about and demonstrate daily life in the old days. You can watch a blacksmith at work, learn how to churn butter, or find out what school was like when all the kids went to one classroom to learn. Every day at noon at the Fair, they hold old fashioned games for fair-kids, like hoop rolling and 3-legged races.

Storrowton Village has many activities throughout the year, too. For children, there are school programs from October to June and Early American Summer Days in August. For all ages, Tales from Haunted New England is presented near Halloween, and Yuletide at Storrowton, Yuletide Open House Tours and Yuletide by Lantern Light and take place before the holidays.

Year-round, Storrowton’s Gift Shop has gifts and collectibles, and the Storrowton Tavern is a favorite destination for traditional American fare.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Last day for $5 after 5 p.m. admissions

If you want to save more than half the normal cost of admission, come after 5 p.m. to The Big E today. It's the last day of this special admission fare. You'll get to see the sparkling lights of The Big E and Midway, and a bit of the Big Easy with the Grande Mardi Gras Float Parade, sponsored by Foxwoods Resort Casino, at 7:30 p.m. And, of course, all the attractions and sights of the fair go nonstop until 10 p.m.
The Start of October at The Big E

It's October and no one can believe it, but the weather proves it's so. Outside on the Fairgrounds I see a lot of sweaters, hoodies and even some hats, but of course there is always someone in a sleeveless tee shirt, because for some, covering up their intricate tattoos is unthinkable!

There is such a mix of people here at the Fair, it shows there is no such thing as a typical Fairgoer. That's why there's so many different kinds of attractions and exhibits here at The Big E. But as different as people are, they pretty much want some of the same things -- to forget the everyday humdrum for a while, to be amused and excited, to see or learn something new, to eat good food, to get a good value. We do it all, and more.

The Eastern States Exposition Horse Show is going on in the Coliseum right now, with the Hunters and Jumpers, and Hunt Seat Equitation classes competing until the end of the Fair. It's really something to see those riders and horses taking their turns in the ring. The Coliseum is a building that is historic on the Fairgrounds. It used to be where the Springfield Indians professional hockey team played back in the 1950s and '60s. Now the building is where (during the Fair) there are all sorts of demonstrations and competitions, from oxen pulling contests to sheep herding. The building has the flavor of an old-time arena -- nothing like a modern concrete stadium.

Thelma Houston's free shows start today at the Fair. She has two shows a day on the Court of Honor Stage, at 3 and 8 p.m. Everyone always asks her if she is related to Cissy or Whitney Houston, but she is not. She is a disco star, who had the number one song, "Don't Leave Me This Way," and other hits. I love it when people dance while the performers do their thing. Especially the kids.

Of course, tomorrow night is the big Sugarland concert, which has been sold out for months. Everyone is getting very excited about this. Me, too.

My name is Deena. I worked at The Big E in the Marketing Department for all of the 1990s, and am back for the first time in eight years. Of course, I never missed a year as a Fairgoer, just as an employee. Lots of things are the same, thank you, but there's lots new, too.

Like the Circus. The Big E Circus is in the same spot on the grounds, and is still a traditional European-type circus, but the acts are always new. Sometimes there is a performer who returns, like this year's Flying Pages high trapeze artists, but they have new exciting stunts to astound and thrill the crowds. Neecha's Dobermans do the most amazing tricks -- they are such smart dogs! There's Coco, a very comic clown, and The Electrifying Elayne, who performs archery and contortions at the same time. And an acrobatic team called Duo Voltart. The circus is one of the favorite attractions and it's because the president of The Big E, Wayne McCary, spends the winter assembling these acts from all over Europe and brings them here for The Big E.

Well, got to sign off. More, later . . .
Big E Marketing Intern, Jon, has left for his Junior year abroad. This is his final Big E Blog.

Looking Back
It seems so distant, almost ethereal the first Monday that I came in here. I was so nervous. This was my first internship ever. My first experience with an office environment. My only expectations were based on the show "The Office," which, for better or worse, we at Eastern States Exposition do not feature a Michael Scott, nor do we have a Dwight. Nobody has ever set the office on fire in an attempt to teach us office safety, there is no diversity training, no party planning committee.
But I think what I found here was more concrete, definitely more realistic, and better for me. I found a group of people sincerely dedicated to not only their own individual careers and occupations, but to the corporation as a whole. This isn’t like a huge corporation where we are “cogs in a machine,” but rather pieces of a puzzle. Things don’t look quite right unless we all fit together, unless we all coalesce into a team. Without us, The Big E would not happen. Here, we are important in a way that would not be the case in some other larger company. Here, we are not insignificant, but know the president of the corporation on a first name basis.
The Eastern States Exposition brings me to a time when good old traditions were honored. There is an aura of comfortableness, of harmony. Whether it was walking through an empty Storrowton Village Green during mid July during my lunch break or down Commonwealth Ave. full of fairgoers, trying to dodge the crowd, there was some sort of belonging, or rather of acknowledgement of where we, as people, America and New England, have come.
The times like the ones that I had here, at Eastern States Exposition, are ones that can take me wherever I want to go. They represent a solid foundation on which to build my dreams. The lessons and friendships that I have here will accompany me wherever I shall go.
I am forever indebted to Eastern States Exposition for the kind of opportunities it gave me. Thank you.