Guilty pleasure confession: we’re a sucker for State Fairs. Amazingly, these fairs are what makes the United States unique – all 50 states have at least one state fair, typically in the late summer or early fall.
The biggest state fair on the east coast and the seventh largest in the country is located in Massachusetts. Lovingly known as “The Big E”, or The Eastern States Exposition, this annual experience is one all New Englanders know and love. Running September 15 – October 1, 2017, this fair is world renowned. With the thrill rides towering over the fairgrounds and livestock baaaing and bleating, there’s an intoxicating atmosphere that oozes fun to be had with family and friends.
It is a 1.5 hour trip from Boston without traffic so we were sure to get there by late morning, enjoy ourselves, and head home before the sunset. We invited some family and friends to meet us because in our mind, the more the merrier! After finding parking across the street from the main gate, we bought our tickets and walked inside and were immediately welcomed with wafts of deep-fried doughs and farm animals. The weather felt more like a beach day than one to be spent at the fair, but it was worth every second of it, especially considering how successful we were at our goal.
This year, we wanted to consume as many of the amazing fried, smoked, or unusual concoctions that we could without feeling sick. See some of our favorites below.
In addition to that, we also saw some amazing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame music, drank German brews in a biergarten, and gandered at some camels.
Keep reading about our must-dos at The Big E and don’t forget to tell us what you love about your local State Fairs – we’d love to know!
Day Trip to The Big E
- Have a fun playlist! We completed our drive on a Sunday morning, so some acoustic tunes were the perfect way to ease into our day.
- Wear layers and sneakers. The fairgrounds are on pavement so mud is less of a concern. But like I said earlier, this is the biggest State Fair on the east coast so you will walk, a lot. You will also be thankful for a sweater at the start of your day that you shed after all of the walking you do.
- Come with an empty stomach. There are dozens and dozens of vendors serving indulgent food. It’s not healthy, but it’s worth it once a year.
- Pack a cooler and leave it in the trunk. Because it was so hot on our trip, we left extremely thirsty. However, water is at least $2.50 a bottle. You’re almost better off buying one while in the fairgrounds and packing a few for consumption on your way back.
Where to eat, drink, and be merry:
- Any Biergarten: The craft beer scene is one that is not going away and we’re not complaining. That being said, we must have passed at least five different establishments all offering a handful of microbrews. Choose one and relax a bit with fellow beer lovers!
- Angela’s Pizza: If you love Man vs Food, you’ll love Angela’s mozzarella sticks. Talk about excessive, they sell jumbo sticks weighing in a ¼ pound of cheese at the end of a stick. It’s worth it, even if just for the photo opp.
- Chompers: If stuffed fried balls are your thing, check our Chompers. They sell Chicken Parmesan and Bacon Cheeseburger balls. This is a great option for families with small children, as one serving comes with five balls.
- Tots A Lot: If fried potatoes are more your style, head to Tots A Lot. This stand is serving up loaded tots, buffalo tots, chicken ‘tot’ pie, and even ‘tot’chos. Creative to say the least!
What to do:
- Visit Park Avenue: This street is adorned by six colonial town hall buildings each representing a state in New England. Step inside one and you will find a dozen ‘local’ vendors selling items that make their state special (think maple syrup in New Hampshire and Vermont). They do get a little congested, but it’s worth doing at least one!
- Hang out in the Coliseum: Not only is this one of the few areas that covered, but there is some pretty cool equestrian competitions happening inside. Even if you no nothing about the sport, it is amazing to see these animals in action.
- Get up close and personal with some livestock: Whether it’s at a petting zoo or the one of the many exhibits, check out some of the livestock that reside in New England farms. Our favorites included the baby goats, camels, and lamas.
- Check out the entertainment schedule: While we were on our way to the grounds this morning, we realized that former lead singer Steve Augeri (the Steve after Steve Perry of course) was going to perform while we were there. Though it wasn’t Journey or Steve Perry, he did fulfill the lead singer role for Journey for eight years and it was amazing! It’s worth checking out the schedules before your go.