Monday, September 30, 2013

And That's a Wrap!

A case of the Mondays is typical when returning to work after a weekend, but this Monday is different. In the past 10 hours, we watched a 17-day whirlwind of excitement come to an extreme halt.  

During The Big E, there is no such thing as days off or weekends. This is the main event that the entire year leads up to and the administration needs all hands on deck to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. From the time gates open on opening day until they close the last night of the Fair, it is go, go, go, non-stop work and fun.


Contrary to what you might think, no one minds being here all hours of the day. The adrenaline and lively atmosphere keeps everyone chugging along. There is always something to do and things to see.

Sounds like fun right? It was. Being able to intern at The Big E was an opportunity of a lifetime and unlike anything we have ever experienced.

After being told what our fairtime hours would be, we certainly didn’t anticipate the fair season to fly by as fast as it did. In the beginning, the thought was “how will I survive?” Also, being new to the Fair, we didn’t know what to expect. While being on the grounds 8+ hours a day for 26 days in a row seemed daunting, it turned out to be a blast.

What made it even better was that The Big E family welcomed us with open arms. Unlike some workplaces, Eastern States Exposition staff truly are a huge family. The community on these Fairgrounds is extremely tight knit. Everyone contributes to the success of the Fair and keeps coming back for more. Most of the employees and volunteers have been working together for 20 or more years. Never wanting to leave The Big E is a common side effect of being bitten by the “Fair Bug.” You might laugh, but that bug is no joke.

Posing with our pal, Smokey

Lauren

“I would visit the Fair only once every year and would walk around, perhaps buy some fried Oreos or something traditional, like a caramel apple. It was something fun to do on a Friday night, but after this experience I have a new found love and appreciation for The Big E and the reason for its existence. For lack of a better term, I was a newbie, so I was incredibly lucky to have Anne-Alise who lives and breathes The Big E to help me navigate the grounds and answer my questions so I would not sound too naive in front of my superiors.

I seriously can’t believe it has come to a close. I felt out of my element this morning. Over half of the vendors are gone, the ticket booths are being towed away and no more sounds of the band organs, Hilby’s hilarious act or squealing piglets. The 17 days of pure joy have come and gone within a blink of an eye.

It wasn’t all fun and games; we leave with our resumes filled with new skills and experiences. We have become social media experts after meeting the ESE’s social media consultants, Steve Richo and Mark O’Shea, founders of Noise New Media. The weekend I met them is my fondest memory. They were down to earth and impressed me with their talents. The Noise Boys taught us how to hold virtual scavenger hunts via twitter. We would pick a location on the fairgrounds and tweet clues from our location. The followers who were actively tuning into The Big E Fair channel would have to find where we were hiding and be the first to say “I love The Big E!” in order to win a prize pack filled with Big E apparel, premium reserved tickets to an entertainer that would be performing later that day and other fun tchotchkes.

It was a little nerve-wracking when we held our first scavenger hunt without the boys. In the back of my mind was this fear that no one would find us. Luckily, that fear never became reality and we were always found by our followers. It showed me the power of social media and piqued my interest to explore this field.”

Tweeting from the school house

Anne-Alise

“The Big E has a special place in my heart, so being accepted for this internship was a dream come true. Growing up, I always wanted to work at the Fair so I could be here all the time. Even after coming several times over the season, I could never get enough. Despite the fact I would be seeing the same things day after day; it was the atmosphere that kept me yearning for more.

Seeing the Fair come to an end was always depressing, but this year is different. Even though I got bitten by the “fair bug” a long time ago, after having worked here every day, my wound has gotten increasingly worse. 

It is remarkable how fast things change. Yesterday the grounds were alive with people, vendors and entertainment. Now, the Court of Honor Stage, once positioned behind me, has been dismantled. I am not hearing Hilby ask his audience to say, “Ja” three times a day and the Ides of March, Soul Survivors, Mike Pender and Darlene Love have long vacated the premises.

In the past 17 days, 1,481,917 people passed through the gates. Today, everything is empty. There is silence all around the Brooks Building except for the occasional rumbling of a truck driving by. Now, Lauren and I have time to reflect on the 2013 Big E and the awesome experience we had here.

I crave the behind the scenes action. So naturally, working here was very satisfying. Being able to see the grounds completely transform from event to event was incredible. Being a part of that work was the icing on the cake.

This internship has broadened and strengthened my abilities in many ways I didn’t even think possible. I am more confident in my work and feel like a productive member of the team, writing press releases, working with social media, interviewing people and playing a part in the production line that is writing the Daily BiggiE Sez.

The major story in each Daily BiggiE Sez is Host of the Day. Supervisors and co-workers recommend individuals for this honor who exhibit outstanding work ethic. Every morning, Lauren and I would join the Host of the Day crew to crown an unsuspecting staff member with the title. We would interview the Host and their superiors and then compose a hometown press release with an accompanying article for the newsletter.

While Lauren and I were both nervous about working with another intern, the situation could not have turned out any better. We were able to work together on projects, give each other suggestions and feedback and had someone to explore with. I am so thankful to have been able to work with her.”

Packing up & Moving out
Now that the calendar hit Sept. 30, life at ESE turned into whirlwind of emotions as we say farewell to the bustling streets, sweet aromas and loud music. At least our feet will be happy again!

In our opinion, The ESE Marketing department could not have selected a better pair of interns. We complemented each other’s skills, knew when to be serious, when to have fun and worked tirelessly to show our dedication to The Big E.

From this experience, we now have a better understanding and appreciation of all the work that goes into planning and orchestrating the largest fair in the Northeast. It was a surreal experience to be able to partake in it. We will never view The Big E the same way again.


A huge thank you goes out to all members of the Marketing department: Noreen, Catherine, Sue, and the feisty Rita as well as President Gene Cassidy, senior staff members and all other ESE crew members who helped make our time here amazing and unforgettable.

New England’s Grandest Fair will return Sept. 12-28, 2014.
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