Family Fun

Experience the Best of Connecticut at this year’s Big E

Big E Food
Written by Timothy Stobierski

If you’re looking for a fun day trip between now and October 2, look no further than The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

See the best Connecticut has to offer at the 2016 Big E

Connecticut Building at the Big E

The CT Building at The Big E is modeled after the Old CT State House built by Charles Bulfinch in 1796. Photo by Meghan Welsh.

If you’re looking for a fun day trip between now and October 2, look no further than The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It may not be in Connecticut, but it’s an easy drive and there’s so much for you to do there that it makes the drive worthwhile, from food to livestock exhibits to rides and more. The Big E saw more than 1.34 million visitors in 2015, according to the CT Department of Agriculture, and is celebrating its 100th year this year.

Because there’s so much to do at the fair, there’s no way we could fit it all into a single article. Instead, we’re just going to focus on the Connecticut Building located along the Avenue of the States.

The Connecticut Building

The Avenue of the States is one of the biggest attractions for the fair and features a building for each of the states in New England. The Connecticut Building was built in 1938 and officially opened and dedicated the following year, at a cost of $85,000 dollars. It was modeled after the Old Connecticut State House built by Charles Bulfinch in 1796, and features a façade of brownstone, brick, and wooden columns.

Exhibits

Inside Connecticut Hall at the Big E

CT’s sad representatives at the fair: PEZ, Lego, and Mohegan Sun.

The exhibits in the CT Building run the gamut, including information about local produce, craft beers, and wineries, though we don’t have a lot of the crafts and handmade items that the other state buildings proudly display. The largest displays go to Lego, PEZ, and Mohegan Sun—which, I’ll admit, is a little lackluster, and definitely not an accurate representation of our great state. There’s also a rather lame CT picture spot out back that you can stop at if you want to.

Connecticut at Big E

The Food

Food inside CT Building at Big E

Some of the amazing food available at the CT Building.

The Connecticut Building’s saving grace is our amazing food. Among other items, we’ve got HUGE turkey legs and mac’n’cheese from Bear’s Smokehouse, gigantic baked potatoes from Smokehouse Grill (from Danny’s Little Taste of Texas in South Windsor), and pizza from Wooster Street Pizza. Sadly, I showed up to the fair without an appetite and missed the short lines at the beginning of the day; when I returned a little before 5pm, the line for the baked potato took almost 30 minutes to get through, but it was definitely worth the wait.

CT State Troopers

State Trooper exhibit at Big E

Kevin rides on The Convincer. He wasn’t smiling after his crash course in seatbelt use.

For some reason, there’s always a state trooper exhibit at the fair. I guess we’re known for our cops? Either way, if you’ve got a new driver or are just a glutton for punishment, check out The Convincer outside of the CT building, which shows you how painful a car crash can be at even a low speed (4mph).

Helpful Tips

  • Tickets cost $15, and they only accept cash at the admissions tent.
  • There are 7 ATMs located inside the fair grounds. Some exhibitors will accept debit/credit cards, but a lot are cash-only, so make sure you bring some with you.
  • Parking at the fairgrounds is a nightmare, so your best bet is to park at one of the surrounding businesses. These places charge between $10 and $20, so bring cash. If you get there early enough, you can park a relatively short walk from the fair.
  • Head to the fair early. We got there at 11am, as traffic was just starting to get a little hairy. Our friend, Dave, left an hour after us and was stuck in traffic for 2 hours trying to get in.

This is the final weekend of the 2016 Big E. Hours are 10am-11pm Saturday, and 11am-10pm Sunday. If you can’t make it, next year’s Big E will take place Sept. 15 – Oct. 1, 2017.

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press.

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