November 2002

The "Big E" New England State Fair

For more than eighty years, people from all over North America have joined together to celebrate all that is uniquely New England. It is a touchstone event that has become a yearly tradition for generations of Americans. It is where family and friends congregate to be entertained, to enjoy, o have the time of their lives. It was very enjoyable, and I am taking this time to relate many of the very interesting things that we were able to see and visit.

My first impression when entering the gate was the condition of the grounds. Not one item was out of place, and the grounds were clean and void of clutter. On our first night there, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra conducted by the dynamic Maestro, Kevin Rhodes, treated us with a par excellence performance on the main stage followed by a very spectacular display of fireworks. There could not have been a finer way to start the fair. The weather was not at best for the first few days, but improved later, and the fair had an impressive 1,165,224 visitors. There were other top performances daily on the main stage, and many other special attractions too numerous to mention here. One of the new features this year was the Big E Cream Puffs. These were the fairs new signature dessert, a sweet and scrumptious offering made right before fairgoers' eyes in the New England Center.

Another feature was NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTS AMERICA. The Big E celebrated icon Norman Rockwell in this year's premier exhibit in the Young Building. Included were 322 Saturday Evening Post covers, and reproductions of his famous "Four freedoms." I have always admired the Mariachi bands while on business in Mexico, and was treated to the same on the grounds at the Big E. The Commerford Petting Zoo, which featured many different animals, was also a pleasure to visit and reminded us we are never too old to buy some feed and let them eat out of our hands.

All six New England states participate in the Big E, and each state is represented with a scaled-down version of their own capitol building filled with displays and native foods. Another bright point of the fair is the abundance of flowers planted around many of the featured displays, which added to the overall appearance of the midways. Larry Kern, from El Paso, Texas and his Stinson Model 2000M Band Organ, the "Ambassador", was there for the third straight year at one of the main gates, to the delight of fair attendees.

The Big E Grande Parade was conducted daily with many featured items including Mardi Gras floats. Many things were being featured in the large coliseum and the day we entered, a very interesting horse show was in progress.

In 2001, fair president Wayne McCary signed a contract with the Stinson Band Organ Company to manufacture our latest Model 2000M Band Organ. This new "state of the art" band organ will be owned and operated by the Big E. The band organ premiered on September 12, 2002 the opening day of the Big E. The new Band Organ is MIDI controlled, needs no operator, and will play up to 70 songs before repeating back to the first tune.

The spectacular midway was Conklin Shows and featured many rides along with a giant wheel and the Drop Of Fear which I think might have disappeared in the clouds. My wife and I decided this was not our ride and just watched the riders from ground level. Another highlight of the trip was our visit to the Big E Super Circus where we were seated at ringside. The circus, which has grown in popularity over the years, is now in it's own colorful tent and is under the direction of Wayne McCary who produces and handpicks all of the acts starring in the show.

Next year, we plan to return to the Big E again.


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