So, yesterday F and I went to The Eastern States Exposition (aka "The Big E: New England's Great State Fair").
The Big E has been around since 1917, and ever since I was a kid ( in the early 60's Mark! Not since 1917!) we would go every year (as it occurred during my birthday, it was an additional "present" to take me there by my parents).
When I became an adult I didn't go as often. Truth be told, the fair doesn't change much from year to year, and really, how many pieces of wood with your name carved into it and how many cowboy hats with dangling roach-clip feathers do you need?! ;)
So I would go every few years and as I got older the gaps between visits would increase. This time it had been close to five years since we had last attended, so we decided to go this year.
And it was okay. Unfortunately, in my opinion, not nearly as enjoyable as it had been when I was younger.
My biggest complaint was the prices. I don't know how a family could go there and not spend less than a few hundred bucks!
The price of admission just to get in is normally $15! And that doesn't include the price of parking($10!), or rides on the Midway. That's just to walk through the gate.
And forget about the food! Now I grant you, there are some delicacies there that you can't get anywhere else (Deep Fried Kool-Aid, anyone?) But what they charge for regular items is just plain highway robbery!
After we had been there for about an hour, F and I decided that we wanted a snack, so we went to this one regular food vendor and split a regular sized order of fries and got two bottles of Dasani (not Perrier, not Saratoga Springs )water. The price? TEN BUCKS!!!
Ack. No. Stench!!!
Fortunately, other than the food, the Midway and any
rigged arcade games that you might want to try, everything else is free. So we checked out the farm animals (the fair originated as a traditional agricultural fair and it still has this element.) and the petting zoos. They even had elephant and camel rides (for a price, of course.).
There are also permanent buildings on the property that house "specialty" retailers and that sort of thing (aka "wonder mops", "miracle wax", "Salad Master cookware", etc, etc..). And it is sometimes amusing to watch these salespeople give their "demos", but, we've noticed over the years, especially with the growth of the Internet, that you can pretty much get most of this stuff anytime you want online, whereas in the old days, you had to wait for the fair each year in order for this merchandise to be available.
After checking out the retail buildings we made our way over to the Avenue of States Buildings.
There are six State Buildings in all (one for each state in New England. You see? On my blog you not only get entertained, but, you also get some education!) and each building highlights the attractions and products native to that state (and there are usually a handful of cute state troopers from each state as well!). This part of the fair is usually my favorite, as each state sells specialty foods native to their state.
For example, Maine always has a huge line for their "Baked Potatoes" ( a meal in itself with all of the toppings that are offered!), Rhode Island is always crowded with people buying their Clam Fritters (yummy!), and Vermont always has a line for their cheese and maple sugar products, and usually these food items are more reasonably priced than what you can get on the fairgrounds.
By this time we had been at the fair for about four hours and were starting to get tired. So we took a quick walk through the Midway as F wanted to go for a ride on the Merry-Go-Round, but as it turned out, all they had was a "kiddie" version. :(
And with that we bid The Big E a fond adieu! See you in another five years! :)