There’s just something about The Big E that makes it my absolute favorite event each year. Well, that’s a lie. There’s a lot of somethings. In fact, there are truly so many things that I love about The Big E that in the weeks before the big event, it’s all I can talk about. My friends, family, clients, EVERYONE gets a mouth full of excitement when I word vomit all over the place about my favorite things to do, see, and, of course, EAT during the 17-day fair.
I think it’s safe to say I’m essentially an expert at navigating The Big E. Since I was a kid, I’ve been heading to the fair a few times each round and making sure to stop at all the classic booths that I always make time for and, of course, trying out any fun, new foods and activities that are hyped up for the current year’s event. That being said, I thought it was only right that I head to the fair and then share my favorite things to do, see, and eat so that you too can have a BLAST when visiting the fair this year.
Eastern States Farmers Market Wine Tasting: Free booze. Do I need to explain?? Okay, fine. Basically, in small groups, you'll be taken through a small tasting of a few different locally made wines. All. For. Free. You're welcome.
Ride the Big Slide: It truly doesn't matter how old you are because the Big Slide is truly great for people of every age. There will likely be a line because everyone makes it a point to grab a potato sack and slide down the giant slide. Totally worth! It's really one of the best traditions!
Roam the State Buildings: I'm from Massachusetts originally and have been to all the New England states MANY times, yet I still find it so fascinating to walk through all the state buildings and see what they have to offer. This year one of my favorite local places, My Main Squeeze, has a spot in the MA building, so make sure to check them out!
Mutts Gone Nuts: This was the first year that I was able to see the Mutts Gone Nuts show (usually it's pig racing!) but it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Eight dogs (they were all rescues that looked SOOO happy!!) really show off all their skills. You'll absolutely find yourself turning to the person next to you and saying "How do they know to do that?!?!"
Check out the butter sculpture: Every year it's always interesting to watch what the heck is going to be carved with all the pounds of butter at the fair. Stand back and watch the sculptor create some serious artwork. It's incredibly impressive to see the final product but even more interesting and jaw-dropping when you can see it in progress.
Watch Tommy Vee’s Hypnotism Show: For the past few years, I've been making it a priority to stop by the hypnotism show in the Storrowtown green. Tommy Vee is incredibly impressive when he takes volunteers from the crowd and truly takes them to another world. Hypnotism is always entertaining, but the prompts he comes up with truly make it a hilarious, entertaining experience!
Enjoy the parades: You can catch the daily parade Monday through Thursday at 5pm. If I’m there on a weekday, I like to wait up for the 7:30pm Mardi Gras Parade because it is EXTRAVAGANT and you can throw some elbows at your friends seeing who can catch the most beads! On weekends (Friday-Sunday), the Grande Mardi Gras Parade happens and it means BUSINESS. Beads galore!
Catch a concert: The cool thing about The Big E is that there is almost always live music going on. This year, Bowling for Soup was there which truly brought me right back to my childhood. I'll also be checking out Wegee & the Wondertwins on Wednesday 9/18 and Los Lonely Boys on 9/26. CANNOT WAIT!
Get your animal fix at Farmarama: While I'd rather pet a puppy than a goat, I always have such a good time in Farmarama. The building is packed full of animals like llamas, pigs, bunnies, ducks, goats, and much, much more. If you ask me, the piglets are always the cutest to check out, but we also love to watch the chicks hatch in the incubator and try to find the queen bee at the honeycomb stand.
Chicken, Bacon & Cheese Chomper: As soon as Chompers started to set up at The Big E, it's been a must-stop kiosk for me. Last year, I tried the Chicken Parm Chompers on one of the first few days that I went and literally got them every time after that AGAIN (and you know if you eat the same food twice it's hella good). This year, the debuted a Big E exclusive flavor, Chicken, Bacon, and Cheese Chomper dipped in buffalo ranch, and it's easily my favorite thing I've eaten at the fair thus far.
Buffalo Mac & Cheese Pizza: All three of my favorite things (macaroni, cheese, pizza) are combined into one beautiful slice of pizza that I get EVERY YEAR when I head to the fair. It's not too heavy, too spicy, or too greasy. Trust me, it's just right.
Freisling Martini: Usually when I head to the fair, I'm all about a spiked cider with a cinnamon sugar rim (get one of these at the Log Cabin Speakeasy on the same street at the State Buildings), but this year I was introduced to the Freisling Martini by V-One. The perfect blend of reisling, peach juice, and V-One vodka, these refreshing, frozen drinks will keep you cool on the warmer fair days.
Bucket of Chocolate Chip Cookies: I'll never say "no" to a cookie — or eight. At Stella’s, they offer Cookie Cones or a Bucket of Cookies, and there's truly no better way to end a Big E trip than by taking a bucket of these babies home to enjoy all week (or at least until you head back to the fair).
Maine Baked Potato: If you've ever been to The Big E and haven't gotten a Maine baked potato, have you ever really been to The Big E? As soon as you take a look at the Maine Building, it's very obvious just how delicious these baked potatoes are since there's usually at least a 50 person line (that's on a slow day) for this carb-loaded dish. No matter how long the line, you haven't lived until you've had one. Pro Tip: If you're in a rush, there's usually less of a line at Billie's Baked Potatoes or the barbecue joint on the side of the CT building that are close contenders.
Cinnamon Roll with Icing: If you're heading to the fair before lunch, don't worry, you can still eat something semi-breakfast-appropriate: CINNAMON ROLLS. At Cinnamon Saloon, you'll get a cinnamon roll heated up with a healthy serving of icing on top that will seriously transport you to another world.
Chocolate Eclair/Cream Puff: If there's one MUST-TRY food stop at The Big E, it's the Big E Bakery! Whether you're #teamcreampuff or #teameclair, you'll be able to experience the incredible pastries as many times as you'd like during the 17-days, but then after that, you'll have to savor the flavor until you do it all again next year. For me personally, I'm always #teameclair because the chocolate topping, buttery dough, and inside filling are honestly unmatched. BUT, this year, the bakery went above and beyond to create a cream puff with a decadent chocolate ganache topping, so it's absolutely a close contender.
Potato & Cheese Pierogies: As a Polish gal, I could never live without pierogis. Cheese, pasta, and potato? What more could you ask for?! The delicious little packed pasta pockets at Millie’s Pierogi are truly like no other. Perfectly cooked, never soggy, and the perfect size to dip into some sour cream and shovel right into your mouth, you need these pierogis in your life.
Waffle Chicken Bites: Last year was the first time I gave these babies a try and they've become a yearly staple for me. You can get these waffle-breaded chicken bites at the Deep South Food Company near the V-One tent at the front of the fair. Served in a waffle cone, these sweet and salty bites can be dipped in a maple honey mustard that'll hit your sweet spot.
Everyone who goes to The Big E has their little hidden gems, so I always love to ask what's on everyone's must-try list. This year, I did an Instagram poll, and these were the hidden gems that y'all recommended. Most of you just recommended food (which is really why we're friends).
- Cookies from the Vermont Building
- Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake on a Stick
- Frozen Cheesecake on a Stick Covered with Crushed Oreos
- Sassy Sweet Potatoes on the Back Right Side of the MA Building
- Cheese Curds!
- Brick Oven Pizza Behind the ME Building
- Fried Shepards Pie Balls
- Dilly Dog
- Ice Cream Place Across from the Yellow Slide
- Sweet Pepper Bacon
- Bear Attack from Bear's Smokehouse (Outside CT Building)