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Big E returns with food, fun and safety protocols in place

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Three little words on The Big E’s site say it all: Big Is Back.

After being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the doors reopen on Friday, September 17 for 17 days of entertainment, exhibitions, fair food, rides, shopping and more, and more.

It’s great to be back..a huge relief for so many reasons. People are eager to resume a life they once knew. We are also an economic engine that drives the economy of the region. A lot of people have suffered and it is gratifying to get them back to work, exhibitors, dealers, artisans, all of our many, many salespeople and other show workers, said Gene Cassidy, show president.

He noted that everything fairgoers have grown to love and expect at the fair is back: a shoppers’ paradise inside the Better Living Center; the historic village of Storrowton and its Craft Common; Central New England, home to 4-H clubs, food competitions, creative arts and more; Avenue of States, the only place in the country where you can visit New England’s six states and experience their unique products and vacation possibilities without leaving the fairgrounds; North American midway with fast rides, slow rides, and kids’ rides; and the Young Building with its International Plaza with products from all over the world.

Cassidy, however, noted a difference that some fair-goers might notice this year.

If you are looking for a particular supplier that you visit each year at the fair, you may not be able to find it. Not all food dealers and sellers weathered the pandemic storm and some have gone bankrupt, he said.

We have made a conscious decision not to fill in the gaps left by these vendors in order to leave a little more free space than usual on the fairgrounds, Cassidy added.

If you’re looking for a good deal, plan to attend The Big E on opening day, which is Be A Kid For A Day, when all ages pay $ 10 children’s admission. Regular door entry is $ 15, and children ages 6 to 12 are $ 10, and children five and under are free. Opening day is also Military Appreciation Day with ID required for free admission to active duty and retired military personnel, dependents of active duty military personnel, and veterans ( no dependents).

Additional discounts include Six-After-Five when tickets are $ 6 after 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Senior Days Monday through Thursday when tickets are $ 12 for ages 60 and over.

Opening weekend entertainment includes paid concerts at The Big E Arena with Machine Gun Kelly on Friday which is already sold out, Billy Idol on Saturday and Zach Williams on Sunday. The free Court of Honor stage will host Jesse McCartney, Jay and the Americans and Tom Franek on Friday, Kameron Marlow on Saturday and Foghat on Sunday. The E-Stage also returns with emerging local and local talent performing every day into the night.

Collector Car Live returns to the Cour d’Honneur stage on September 26 with a bevy of jaw-dropping vehicles, from Brass Era cars to million dollar exotics, including commentary and interviews from animators and automotive experts. .

Additional field entertainment includes Sahara presented by Camel Kingdom, daily inside Gate 7; the famous Budweiser Clydesdales at their home on ShowPlace Avenue; Swifty Swine Racing Pigs daily at Mallary Rotunda; Daily Zultar Comedy Fortune Teller on the Main Court Stage and Commerfords Children’s Zoo daily at Gate 4.

It wouldn’t be the Big E without its Circus Spectacular, a long-standing Big E tradition featuring world-class jugglers, flying trapeze artists, magicians, aerial acts, clowns and more. Free circus hours are daily at 1, 4 and 7 p.m.

For parade enthusiasts, the Big E Parade takes place Monday to Thursday at 6.30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday at 5.00 p.m. with high school marching bands, Mardi Gras floats with pearls flying in the air for fairground enthusiasts, additional special tanks and the Budweiser and Hallamore Clydesdales.

We all know that one of the main reasons people go to fairs is food, and we have a lot of inventive gourmet delicacies ready to be served to festival goers, said Cassidy, who usually goes straight to cheese curds and also to the 4-H milk boot under the Mallary rotunda for a refreshing drink of moo juice.

The big news is that The Big E Bakery is adding a new pumpkin flavor to its line of Big E cream puffs, alongside the bakery’s other sought-after pastry, the Big Clair.

If Fried is for you, The Coffee Break, located in the food court, serves their Fried Pineapple with Coconut Sauce; Chompers on New England Avenue adds a Potato and Corn Chomper dipped in a ranch of roasted red peppers; and the new supplier Deep Fried Tacos will be located outside the Mallary complex.

Other new options include The Meatball Factorys Bacon Wrapped Dilly Dilly Dog and The New England Craft Pub Taco Bag featuring fritos, fire roasted corn salsa and cheese.

Former stand-by, the ever-popular White Hut is back with its Biggie Waffle Burger and Wurst House has its Wurst Poutine of fries, German beer cheese, roasted red peppers and their famous bratwurst.

The Big E has remained true to its agricultural roots since 1916. Today, the Big E is considered the largest agricultural event on the East Coast with daily breeding competitions for adults and youth, including dairy cattle and butcher’s shop, sheep, pigs, llamas, alpacas and goats. For children and adults alike, the Farm-A-Rama building offers an up-close look at the animals, the chance to observe the hatching chicks, FFA landscape displays, bees, Hallamore Clydesdales and much more. . Art also plays a role in farming at Big E with Jim Victor and Marie Pelton sculpting a yellow masterpiece from 600 pounds of Agri-Mark / Cabot Creamery Cooperative butter. And, the fairground is also home to the Eastern States Exhibition which runs throughout the fair. One of the more recent additions to the fair is the Eastern Farmers’ Market and Wine Barn, home to some of New England’s finest wines, cheeses, and ciders. There are also agricultural demonstrations, such as spinning and weaving, or cooking in the demonstration kitchen. Fairgoers can also rest with a wine slush and a cheese plate, or a wine sundae at the Wine Caf and relax in the courtyard.

With the COVID-19 variant causing an increase in cases locally and across the country, Cassidy said they were taking precautions to ensure the safety and health of fair visitors and workers at Big E.

If there’s one thing we know as an agricultural fair, it’s how to clean up, he said.

The fair has implemented comprehensive cleaning and disinfection protocols throughout the fairground with hand washing or hand sanitizer capabilities at transaction locations.

I encourage people to wear masks on the fairground and, if they are not vaccinated, to get the vaccine before going out and enjoying a day at the fair, Cassidy said.

Doors open at 8:00 a.m. Additional hours of operation include: The Big E Bakery, at 9:00 am; Buildings and Craft Common, Avenue of States and Storrowton Village, 10 a.m. and halfway, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

If you want to leave the driving to someone else, The Big E has partnered with King Gray Coach Lines to offer a number of lounge shuttles. Buses run from Enfield Square Mall on Saturdays and Sundays from the suburban lot outside the former Macys department store from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Buses leave every 30 minutes. Round trips depart every half hour from The Big E until 11 p.m. Tickets cost $ 20 for adults and $ 15 for children ages 6 to 12, and include admission to The Big E and round-trip transportation. Roundtrip shuttle only costs $ 5 for ages 6 and up. Purchases are made in cash only and tickets are sold on site from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free. AMTRAK’s Hartford Line will also take visitors to the fair at Union Station in downtown Springfield, where free shuttles will take guests to the fair on Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information on what to expect for fair-goers at this year’s Big E, visit thebige.com.

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