Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Countdown: 15 Days Until Fairtime

The Fair is 15 days away and the grounds are buzzing with excitement as everything  comes together. Walking through the grounds you can see vendors’ tents are being set up and the white Ticket Booths are being polished to shine brightly. The Grounds department is working tirelessly to plant beautiful flowers and put finishing touches on the landscaping. Here at Eastern States Exposition we can’t wait for The Big E to be back in full swing!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hard Rock: More than Meets the Eye

Until I started working for Eastern States Exposition as the Marketing department’s summer writer, I never understood how much work went into The Big E. To be honest, I never really thought about it, but the exposure I have had thus far has introduced to me the hard work and effort this company puts forth to ensure the 17 days of fun that takes place every September.

Behind closed doors, this company is smaller than you would expect. In the Marketing department alone, there are only five of us, myself included, but as a team we work laboriously to get out every piece of information to the public as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We are currently working on a variety of projects, sharing with the public the Fair details as they unfold. An even bigger challenge awaits us as we collaborate with Hard Rock New England in hopes of building the only hotel and casino resort destination in Western Massachusetts.

Here at The Big E we are excited for this opportunity to come to our community because the benefits are endless. As a company, Hard Rock International prides itself in philanthropy and preaches its motto, “Love all – Serve All” throughout the world and reaches out to others to help those in need.

Eastern States Exposition’s collaboration with Hard Rock is due, in part, to similar beliefs in giving back to the community. Since 1916, Eastern States has been a successful, not-for-profit company built from the ground up through the philanthropy and leadership of its founder Joshua L. Brooks.

Eastern States flourishes in its original mission to give back to the community and remains rooted in agriculture, so why would a corporation like The Big E encourage and invite a company like Hard Rock New England onto its grounds?

  •  Hard Rock’s presence will not take the place, or even interfere with, The Big E. The annual fair that you have grown to love will remain as is.
  •  Hard Rock has agreed to promote restaurants and other establishments by creating a Restaurants Association.
  •  Hard Rock will be purchasing an estimated $50 million worth of goods and services from local businesses annually. The developer will also create a network of small businesses and work to identify capabilities, products, services and resources with the help of the West of the River Chamber of Commerce.
  •  As part of a $35 million overall project cost, Hard Rock is planning to build a new exit off Route 5 to directly access the resort.
  •  Memorial Avenue gets a complete makeover spending more than $10.5 million in reconstructing the road from the Memorial Bridge rotary to the Morgan-Sullivan bridge. New sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and beautification are part of the project. In addition, bicycle lanes and ADA-compliant crosswalks will make the area more pedestrian-friendly. This will be at no cost to the Town or its taxpayers.
  • Eastern States and Hard Rock will team up to support initiatives in the Town, including some of the organizations Hard Rock has already reached out to—The Parish Cupboard;  Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield; The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; the local Red Cross; American Cancer Society;  West Springfield Garden Club; the Taste of West Springfield; Friends of the Library and others. 
  • It’s more than a Casino. Hard Rock New England will feature shopping, restaurants including the iconic Hard Rock Café, and an entertainment arena which will attract major musical acts and shows to the Pioneer Valley.
Many people express concern with the effects a casino will have on our community, but what they overlook is the benefits that an organization like Hard Rock will bring to West Springfield. Casino gaming is just a small detail in Hard Rock’s presence in this city, but unfortunately it is what people emphasize most. Hard Rock’s philanthropic ideals will work side by side with Eastern States Exposition’s beliefs in giving back to make West Springfield an even better place to live.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Media Gets a Taste of New Fairtime Food

Deep fried delights are a staple at The Big E, and each year fairgoers come from all over to drop the diet for a day or two and indulge in fairtime favorites. To kick off the Fair with new delicious delicacies, the media was invited to have a taste, and all of our guests were very pleased.

If you love The Big E’s Craz-E Burger as much as we do, you won’t be able to resist the Craz-E Breakfast Sandwich. Like our famous burger, our new addition to the breakfast menu replaces bread with a glazed donut. But instead of a burger, fairgoers will enjoy the combination of egg and cheese and choice of sausage or bacon. One of our special guests described the sandwich with bacon as “ridiculously good.” Find the Craz-E Breakfast Sandwich at the Big EZ Café.

If breakfast food isn’t your cup of tea, The Big E is introducing new desserts. Described by one of our guests as the “most delicious ice cream alternative imaginable,” the new Baconana is an ice-cold, frozen banana covered in chocolate and sprinkled with real bacon. Your taste buds will be zapped with a salty surprise at the end of each bite, perfecting the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Find this new fruity favorite at the Veggie Patch on Commonwealth Ave.

The Big E’s tradition of deep frying unusual foods like Kool-Aid and jelly beans continues with the introduction of their new Deep Fried Strawberry Shortcake. These vendors are experts at what they do, and while you might expect the shortcake to dissolve the second you bite into it, these chefs have perfected the recipe by covering the berry-filled dough with a won ton wrapper. The shortcake comes prepared with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce or strawberries and whipped cream. Visit the Coffee Break to try this new fair addition.

The Fair will also feature other savory treats guaranteed to satisfy any palate. The Moolicious Pie Shack will feature Peach, Blueberry, Apple, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Turtle and Pecan pies, which will be served a la mode. Also available are Moo-Nuts, a delectable donut stuffed with soft serve ice cream and a variety of toppings.

Don’t forget about classic BBQ style lunches. The Ultimate BBQ has a new lunchtime addition with its Three Pigs in a Bun. Pork-lovers will want to try this 6-inch grinder roll filled with grilled pork sausage, bacon and pulled pork. The Big E is your last chance of the season to enjoy corn on the cob. Choose a flavored butter at Meester Mike’s Corn on New England Avenue.

The New England Craft Beer Pub is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy an ice cold beer made in local breweries across New England. Pair your favorite local brew with classic and upscale pub food such as our lobster mac and cheese and Reuben sandwich.

Each year The Big E celebrates its love for food with fairgoers from all over New England. We can’t wait to see what you think about our new additions. We know you won’t be disappointed. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

NEW! Big E Wine and Cheese Barn

There’s been a lot of buzz and construction around the grounds and for good reason! The Big E has completed its installation of the brand-new Big E Wine and Cheese Barn and we can’t wait for it to open during the Fair! The new barn will feature award-winning wines and cheese from the Annual Big E Northeast Gold Wine Competition and Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition. Stop by during the Fair and sample all New England cheese entries and a selection of Northeast wines. Find your favorite pairings and take them home to share with friends and family.

Step inside the new barn and experience a brief break from the hustle bustle of the Fair. You will temporarily leave the cream puffs and deep fried deliciousness behind and feel like you’ve entered a New England vineyard and specialty cheese shop. Speak with vintners and find the wine that tickles your taste buds and the cheese that suits your palate or favorite homemade recipe.

The new barn will feature a variety of wines, from white and red to sparkling and mead. Try Rhode Island’s Great White Wine from Newport Vineyards or Cape Cod’s award-winning Zinfandel from Truro Vineyards. This new addition to The Big E has something for everyone.

Judging for The Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition will take place Aug. 23, 2013. We can’t wait to taste this year’s entries!

The Barn is adjacent to the beautiful Mallary Gardens, an oasis of native flowers surrounding a Koi pond created by Picture Perfect Ponds, steps away from our main entrance at Gate 9-A.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Get Ready for the 2013 Big E Entertainment

Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy - Daily, 11am, 1 & 6:30pm - Hilby has thrilled audiences on Storrowton Village Museum’s Gazebo Stage and now he brings his antics front and center on the Court of Honor. If you haven’t seen him, you’re in for a treat. Watch out for the bowling ball!

DJ Pauly D, Sept. 13, 8pm, Dance Party!
Named 7th on the list of “World’s Highest Paid DJs” by Forbes Magazine, Pauly D ranks among the globe’s most respected and distinguished disc jockeys. Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio brings his eclectic track selection, incomparable style, and infectious personality to The Big E. Put on your dancing shoes and join the fun!

Don Felder - A Night at the Hotel California - Saturday, Sept. 14
After his rise to stardom as lead guitarist of The Eagles, Don Felder is flying solo. The former Eagle continues to live up to his legendary talent and performances that he has always been known for. Felder’s latest album, “Road to Forever,” includes an array of impressive musicians including David Crosby, Graham Nash, Steven Stills, and Randy Jackson.

Tommy James & the Shondells - Sunday, Sept. 15 -Tommy James and The Shondells were among the first to experiment with music videos. Their first major hit, “Hanky Panky,” was followed by “Crimson and Clover.” After that came seven more back-to-back smash hits including: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Mony Mony.”

Darlene Love - Sept. 14-16, 3 & 8pm - Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Darlene Love, started her career in the 60s singing lead vocals on a string of hits including “He’s a Rebel,” “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.” Take a stroll with Darlene down music’s memory lane.

Mike Pender of The Searchers - Sept. 17-20, 3 & 8pm - Known for his affiliation with the 1960s Rock group, The Searchers, Mike Pender’s musical success follows him to The Big E. The Searchers scored 3 #1 hits including “Needles and Pins” and “Love Potion Number 9.” They were, at one time, considered the second most successful group behind the Beatles.

Hunter Hayes - Friday, Sept. 20 - $39/$29 - At just 21 years-old, singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes’ heartfelt Pop-Country voice has earned him a Grammy nomination and the opportunity to perform with three of country’s most celebrated artists: Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood. Hayes has charmed his audience with songs such as “Storm Warning,” “Wanted,” and “Somebody’s Hero.” He has topped the Country charts in the U.S. and Canada since his debut album was released in October 2011.

The Diamond Collection - Sept. 21, 3 & 8pm - Local talent, Kenny LaBelle, brings The Diamond Collection, his show honoring superstar Neil Diamond’s music, to The Big E. 

Symphonic Sounds of Elvis featuring Maestro Joe Guercio - Saturday, Sept. 21 - Known for his involvement in Elvis’s orchestra from 1970-1977, Maestro Joe Guercio brings the King of Rock and Roll’s legacy to this year’s Big E. Special guests include Elvis’s Imperials and vocalist Andy Childs. Don’t miss out on this rockin’ opportunity to honor the King of Rock and Roll.

The Soul Survivors - Sept. 22-25, 3 & 8pm - Get ready for a taste of R&B from Philadelphia’s Soul Survivors as they take the “Expressway to Your Heart.”

Ides of March - Sept. 26-29 - 3 & 8pm - Their 1970 smash “Vehicle” started a string of hit records including “Eye of the Tiger” and “The Search is Over.”


Kix Brooks - Fri. Sept. 27 - Kix Brooks is best known for his success with Brooks & Dunn, the bestselling Country music twosome of all time. Together, they sold over 30 million records, won more than 75 major industry awards, had 23 #1 hits and scored 41 Top Ten singles. In 2006, he joined American Country Countdown and was honored with the 2009 National Broadcasting Personality of the Year award. He is the first person to win a CMA in both the artist and broadcast categories.

Austin Mahone – Saturday, Sept. 28 – 7:30 p.m. - At just 17 years old, singer-songwriter Austin Mahone is poised for stardom. Already making his mark on the scene, he recently sold out New York’s famed Best Buy Theater within minutes of on-sales. His current single, “Say You’re Just a Friend” is lighting up the radio and climbing the charts. Mahone recently released a new album titled What About Love.

The Beach Boys - Sunday, Sept. 29 - Beach Boys Mike Love and Bruce Johnston take fairgoers on a Surfin’ Safari down memory lane playing a torrent of hits that sold albums by the tens of millions. The Beach Boys changed the musical landscape of their day and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The original duo is joined by Christian Love, Randell Kirsch, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill and Scott Totten as they continue the legacy of this iconic American band.

Counting Down: One Month Until Fairtime

The humidity has lifted, and the August air is shifting towards the crispness of fall. Soon my father’s lemon tree will be inside for the next nine months, my backyard pool will be closed, and it will be time to return to school before I’ve finished packing my clothes and belongings for my Amherst apartment. With the seasonal transition comes the end of BBQs and hot dogs, fresh vegetables from my father’s garden and the bittersweet feelings of leaving the warm nights and beach days behind.

It also marks the end of my summer as a marketing assistant at The Big E, where I have learned the ins and outs of journalistic writing and formed great relationships with the marketing team. Since early June I’ve been coming into the office from 9-5, holding a job much different than those of my friends at school. Instead of serving customers at a local restaurant or country club, or working as a lifeguard at a local pool, I am doing something I enjoy and gaining the experience I will need after graduation. I love it here, and as the Fair draws closer, I become aware of the limited time I have left.

Each day I write stories on cream puffs, Craz-E Burgers and the animals that star in the major competitions, and I revisit my childhood and the excitement I felt around seeing the livestock and elephants up close. Each year I begged my parents to take me to the Fair, and for the most part, they did. Then in high school I marched in the parade with the Minnechaug Band, leaving school early and indulging in tasty treats and riding the Giant Yellow Slide. It was one of my favorite days in the school year.

Fast forward to today, Aug. 13, 2013. It is exactly one month until the Fair, and my experience with The Big E has evolved into so much more than eating fried dough and shopping for flannel shirts in the Vermont Building. Becoming a part of the behind-the-scenes Marketing team, I now understand the endless hours of preparation ESE goes through to make the Fair possible.

Soon I will leave my position behind to start my classes, welcoming the crisp air and the changing leaves as they become a pumpkin shade of orange and a cardinal red before falling to the ground. Warm cider and crisp McIntosh apples will fill my kitchen, and flannel shirts will replace the short sleeves and sundresses I’ve been wearing since May.

New England is breathtaking in the fall, but I know that I will miss my summer writing job and the people I am lucky enough to work with. In a way though, it isn’t truly over until Sept. 29, the last day of the Fair. For those 17 days I can still revisit the grounds and drop by the office as if I never left, and going back to school was simply a detour.