Monday, November 25, 2013

Big E Trees Get a New Home

Removal of the Trees in front of the N.E. Grange
When we are exposed to things on a daily basis, it is remarkable what can be overlooked. It might be historical significance, value or the individuality and uniqueness of an item. In this case, I am referring to trees.

This week, Eastern States Exposition’s Landscaping department began the process of redesigning the planters in front of the New England Grange. This project included the removal of several trees that surrounded the iconic building.

They are beautiful trees – there is no denying that. Each has vibrant mahogany bark and magnificent flowers during the spring. Despite their eye catching appearance, I only knew them as the trees in front of the Grange.

Come to find out, they are Paperbark Maples and Stewartia. Both are slow-growing, specimen quality varieties which were planted on ESE grounds during the ‘80s. The branch shape, bark color and trunk caliper (trunk diameter) of the trees, all attributed to their specimen grade.  

While tree removal was necessary to showcase the front of the Grange better, Scott Paton, of the Landscaping department, did not want to see the trees destroyed. “Since they take so long to grow, I couldn’t imagine just chopping them down,” Scott said.

To fulfill his mission, Scott recruited Don Ford, owner of Stonegate Gardens Inc., in Granby, Conn., to find the trees a new home. Scott met Don on a field trip to his nursery 13 years ago while he was studying at UConn and always remembered his experience. Don specializes in specimen trees and works with landscape architects across New England. Scott said he has a great business model for larger trees.

When asked whether he would like the trees for his nursery, Don did not have to think twice. “This is a wonderful opportunity,” Don said. “They are beautiful trees and far too valuable to be cut down.”

According to Don, it is a rarity to find Paperbark Maples as large as these. “It is like finding an antique or gem – You can’t pass it up,” he said. Scott even mentioned that one of the Paperbark Maples in front of the Grange is the largest he’s ever seen.

The removal process took two days. The trees, weighing upwards of one ton each, were dug up by hand and wrapped using a special drum lacing technique with rope and burlap.

Drum Lacing Technique
According to the men, this process is a dying art form. Machines that quickly “ball and burlap” plant roots eliminated the necessity of using this old fashioned method.  However, drum lacing still comes in handy for circumstances such as this – when the trees weigh the same as a small elephant.

Once the surface area of the roots was secure, the workers lifted each tree from the ground with a backhoe. They were then able to cut the tap root and continue tying the bottom by tilting the tree from side to side.

After all of the trees were wrapped up into giant disk-shaped mounds, they were put en route to Granby, Conn., where they will be stored in outdoor manmade dirt pits until Don finds a home for them. They will hopefully find permanent residence in the Berkshires.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hot Fudge Sundae Dessert Pizza

Have a sweet tooth? We have just the thing for you!

Check out this awarding winning recipe from one of the national cooking contests held at The Big E in 2013.

Fleischmann’s Yeast – Best Baking Contest Best Dessert Pizza submitted by Elinor Ives of Fiskdale, Mass.

Hot Fudge Sundae Dessert Pizza
2 cups chocolate chips, divided
2 sticks butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 packet Fleischmann’s Yeast

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Fudge sauce
Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place 1 cup chocolate chips and the butter in double boiler over medium heat until melted. Set aside to cool. Mix eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add flour and Fleischmann’s Yeast and mix to combine. Stir in cooled chocolate and mix. Add the rest of the chocolate chips and combine. Pour the batter into a greased 12-inch round pizza pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and cream. Spread topping on the cooled crust and then drizzle with fudge sauce and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Your New Holiday Tradition

The holidays are right around the corner which means snowy nights, warm fires, sweet aromas and family fun. What are your favorite traditions? Perhaps decorating gingerbread houses, skating on ice rinks, hunting for the perfect Christmas tree or baking holiday cookies?

Get Ready for your New Holiday Tradition

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

Some of you may remember the whimsical Walking in a Winter Wonderland exhibit that took center stage in the Young Building during the 2012 Big E. The inaugural display was decorated to a “T” with a forest of trimmed trees, lights and themed Christmas décor. To top it off, there was even a light snowfall.

We are excited to announce that the ornate display is returning to Eastern States Exposition for a special holiday production this winter season. Walking in a Winter Wonderland will be presented in the New England Center from November 16 to January 5 and it will be more spectacular than ever!

Prepare to be whisked away as you enter a life-size, winter snow globe. The display is sure to dazzle and amaze you with five themed rooms to tour – Wintery White Snow Queen, Vintage Glamour, Holiday Tradition, Sweet Treats and Victorian Romance.

After walking through the exhibit, capture a lasting memory or get a picture for your holiday greeting cards at the Green-Screen Photo Studio. Pose with the Eiffel Tower or other popular destinations when you select a travel theme or stick with a classic holiday background. Before you leave with your new memorabilia, peruse the Wonderland Gift Shop where you’ll find unique holiday gifts, ornaments and home décor!

No matter what the weather is outside, snow flurries are always in the forecast when you come to Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Mark your calendars for your new holiday tradition this season!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Nov. 16, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014, New England Center


Admission: $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.

For more holiday fun, be sure to visit Storrowton Village Museum for Yuletide at Storrowton, free, Dec. 7 & 8, 11am to 4pm. Yuletide week events include Open House Tours, Dec. 10 – Dec. 14, 11am – 3pm; and Yuletide Lantern Light Tours, Dec. 11, 6 – 8pm. Tour admission is $5 per person, children under 6 free. The Village Gift Shop and Potter Mansion Christmas Shop are open during all Yuletide events.

Visit for more information and dates and times for Santa visits. Like the event on Facebook and follow @winwonderland on Twitter. If you are interested in Yuletide, visit and stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on Eastern States Exposition’s favorite old-fashioned holiday tradition.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Early American Summer Days

Eastern States Exposition’s Storrowton Village Museum is truly a gift to Western, Mass. The 19th century reconstructed village is a year round attraction that offers incredible educational opportunities and other exciting events to the community.

Every summer my parents would sign me up for Early American Summer Days – a week-long camp at Storrowton. It was always cool to come to Storrowton during The Big E’s off-season and see a different side of the Fair.

The summer camp was such a fun, unique experience.  We would partake in a number 19th century activities from basket weaving to writing with a quill pen and churning milk into butter or cheese. Campers had the opportunity explore the historic buildings, play games and watch animal demonstrations on the Village Green. 

To fit the part, we would get dressed up in the century’s attire complete with an apron and bonnet for the girls and a straw hat or cap for the boys. Some of the fun was seeing what your outfit would be. Generally we would end up with a mishmash of patterns and colors. I don’t think my costume ever matched.

Once we were dressed, our journey to the past began. An activity I really looked forward to was dipping candles. I guess I’ve always had a fascination with wax. If there is a candle on a table, you bet I’d be playing with it.  

I would have made candles all day if they allowed me.  Each camper, equipped with a wick string, would take turns dipping their wick into the bucket of hot wax. We were highly supervised and received strict instructions not to hold the candle in the wax too long or else it would melt off. After a few rounds, the candle would begin to form.

Playing marbles was another one of my favorite activities. We would form a line and roll our marbles into chalk drawn circle on the ground. Any marbles we knocked out of the circle were ours to keep. My collection became seriously impressive after a few years. I still have it too.

I also loved to grow beans. On the first day of camp we would fill up a plastic cup with dirt and plant a bean. It was fun to watch them sprout over the course of the week. One year I forgot to bring home my bean plant on the last day of camp and was seriously devastated.  

Since the program is only for kids ages 7-12, I always told myself I would volunteer at Storrowton or work as a camp counselor when I was too old to be a camper. Unfortunately, I never got around it out. Even after all these years, Early American Summer Days still stands out in my memory as one of my favorite summer activities.

There are two, week-long sessions of Early American Summer Days offered each year in August. The program takes children on an exciting journey into New England’s bygone days where they will experience challenging and fun hands-on activities, craft and games.

Campers will have the opportunity to milk farm animals, work in the blacksmith’s forge, mill corn into a meal for cooking, churn milk into butter and cheese, make a woven basket, learn dances and songs, write with a quill pen, roll hoops, sack race and play games, dip candles, tell stories and a variety of other 19th century craft projects.

Apart from Early American Summer Days, Storrowton offers many other educational programs. Check them out on the Storrowton tab! Get more info on the summer camp at