I mentioned the Big-E back in October in a conversation I was having with my buddy at the bar. I had hoped to feature some of the doors, but it was simply too crowded to get any good photos of doors. I realized that my daughter and I always go back to the fairgrounds in January for a woodworking show, so I tabled the doors until now.
I explained in a footnote in October that The Big-E a.k.a. The Eastern States Exposition a.k.a. The Great New England Fair is the 5th largest agricultural fair in the United States. I didn’t explain that it’s the only state fair that involves more than one state. New England has six states, and six states are featured in the Big-E.
The fair was the brainchild of Joshua L. Brooks in 1916. Brooks wanted to bring together all six New England states in one location in order to foster communication and to improve regional agriculture. The first Eastern States Exposition took place in 1917. Not only do all six New England states participate in fair, but you can actually visit all six states while attending the fair. This was another idea put forth by Mr. Brooks.
During the Big-E, you enter the exhibition grounds, specifically, the huge dirt parking lot through Gate-9. During the rest of the year, you enter through Gate-5. As soon as you pay your $5-10 parking fee (price fluctuates with the events being held) you find yourself on The Avenue of the States. Here, each New England state was asked to construct a replica of their original Statehouse. I can’t speak for the other five states, but the Connecticut building is, in fact, modeled after the Old Connecticut State House in Hartford. My understanding (from Wikipedia) is that the New Hampshire and Vermont buildings do not resemble their historic state houses at all – what can I say, you never know with those two. Also from Wikipedia:
“Much like national embassies, the statehouses and the land on which they sit are owned by the respective jurisdiction. Through an arrangement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, they are administered by representatives from each state’s police force during the Fair. Due to this distinction, tickets for each of the six lotteries can be purchased among the houses.”
‘Cuz nothing says “Welcome” like buying a lottery ticket.
The Big-E fairgrounds is located in West Springfield, MA, which is only about 15 minutes from where we live in CT. Like every agricultural fair, you can see animal exhibits, learn about the industry and agriculture of each state, ride rides and play games on a midway and visit hundreds of vendors selling everything from hot tubs to Magic Mops to cookware. And, of course, you can eat. You can eat the blueberry pie from the New Hampshire Building that my friend and I talked about in October, and you can eat a Lobster Roll from the Maine Building, apple pie and cheddar cheese in Vermont and anything and everything dipped in batter and deep fried.
In the gallery today are the State Buildings, and their doors. I hope you enjoy this contribution to Norm Frampton’s fantastic Thursday Doors series. Please consider joining us. All you need is a photo of a door and, well, actually, that’s all you need. You have until Saturday at noon to post your door, visit Norm’s site and click the linky-thing. He’s made it very easy.