It took us about 45 minutes to make it off the highway and to the entrance of the Big E. Thankfully, we scored half-price parking at a private lot off the property of the Eastern States Exposition. A little further to walk, but I'll take a walk to save five bucks.
The Big E is a county fair on steroids, and it is held annually in Springfield, MA. The "fair" features a mini amusement park (for the price of about $3/ride - I said no to that since we have spent the summer at our local amusement park), lots of booths with locals selling their wares, and way too much greasy fair food.
One of the main purposes of the fair is celebrate agriculture. There are sheep:
And there are cows, chicks, and ducks. There are also pigs, my favorite:
Is that brown and black spotted one not the cutest thing EVER (besides my children)? And I make that judgment call after seeing nothing but his cute little hiney. If no one had been looking, I would have scooped him up and put him in my pocket.
And doesn't this mama look fully and completely content?
And she's got eight children (that I can see anyway)! Oh to have that smile on my face all the time with just my four!
There were several horse shows, and the very elegant Clydesdale horses were on display as well.
My favorite show at the Big E is the Border Collie Demonstration. This is Peg:
The demo took place in a small arena, too small for a bunch of sheep, so the trainer uncaged what she called "mini-sheep":
Aren't these fun looking ducks?
Peg quickly went to work herding the ducks and obeying her trainer's commands.
Peg forced them over a bridge:
And even under the bridge, though that feat took a little more coaxing on Peg's part.
Audrey enjoyed watching from the sidelines:
After the dog show, we went over the big top for the circus that is part of admission to the Big E. Even though we got there 30 minutes early, we still got terrible seats and therefore saw the back of most of the performers (as well as a big post that stood right in my line of sight), but we were entertained by many of the acts anyway.
After the circus, the three younger kids enjoyed a ride down a huge slide:
One of the things the Big E is best known for are its replicas of each New England state's state house.
Inside each building, visitors get a tour of many of the customs of each state: visitor guides, crafts, state museums, food...all of these things are available and unique to each state. The kids already knew they wanted to go to Vermont to get some maple syrup cotton candy. After that purchase, we decided to visit Connecticut and the Lego exhibit. Since the American Lego headquarters are in Connecticut, they are well represented at the Big E. The three younger kids made a Lego tile for display. Alex, my socialite, meanwhile ran into some friends with whom she chatted while the others built.
We were ready to leave after visiting the states, but on our way out we came across more friends as well as a sea lion show. So we stuck around to chat and to witness the sea lions doing the conga.
The funniest thing to me was that the sea lions all clapped whenever one of them would perform a trick.
So not bad for a free day (we get free tickets through one of the homeschool groups). Next time, though, I will remember to take my Tylenol. Thankfully, the Big E also has an apothecary, so I was able to purchase some Advil to take away my headache.
Like I said: we came, we saw, we conquered.