Friends, I have a confession to make. I might be in love with the Big E.
If you aren't familiar, the Big E is an annual fair in West Springfield, MA. They have rides, games, farm animals, live music and the most gluttonous food choices you will ever encounter in your life.
Lucky for me, I have friends who live one town over in Longmeadow, who have become Big E experts and offered to be my tour guides for my first-ever visit. On their recommendation, we decided to head over at 8:45am, to get there by 9:00am when the gates open.
Parking is $10 dollars for the day and we were ushered into a spot just four rows from the entrance. Once our tickets had been scanned, our first stop was the agriculture building. Just outside the doors is the annual butter sculpture. No, that is not a typo.
This sculpture gave me the same feeling of wonderment I had the first time I went to the Revere Sand Sculpting Festival. Though this time I kept wondering, "How is this not melting?"
Inside the agriculture building all the little kids kept stopping in front of a refrigerator with cow spots painted on the doors. My friend whispered to me, "It opens and animatronic milk and butter start singing and dancing." This I had to see.
Aren't the milk bottles on the right side giving you a very Diana Ross and the Supremes vibe?
Next it was time to meet some animals (but not touch them!).
The cows were up first and seeing them reminded me of my visits to Maple Valley Farm in Hadley, MA.
We also greeted some goats.
This little guy was trying to make a break for it!
So many of the sheep farms had adorable names like Cozy Nook Homestead and Ewetopia (my personal favorite).
We walked by just in time for the sheep show! Yes, there is a professional judge of sheep.
As we made our way out of the building and toward our first food stop, we stumbled upon the enormous Budweiser booth, including a tent where you can meet the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
We popped into the petting zoo (forgive the color of these photos, the tent was yellow) and this sign made me chuckle.
After a solid ten minute walk, we reached the food window we'd been talking about since the night before - the Big E cream puffs.
The fair is known for two particular delicacies - the cream puff and the chocolate eclair. Naturally, we decided to get one of each.
The cream puff was heavenly. The pastry was light and the cream was rich without being sickeningly sweet. The chocolate eclair ganache was a very dark chocolate, which helped cut the sweetness of the vanilla cream filling. You can see more photos on Instagram.
After wiping our faces and licking our fingers, we headed towards the state houses. The Big E has life size replicas of the state houses of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Inside each building you will find the foods, beverages and products that state is best known for.
I really liked the tag line for Connecticut, "Still Revolutionary," so snapped a quick shot as we walked in.
In between Connecticut and Vermont we made a quick stop for a cider donut to share. That is always a good decision.
In the Vermont state house, the very first booth was Cabot Cheese. They make a special edition cheddar cheese just for the Big E.
As we wandered through the maple syrup and flannel pajamas, we eventually hit American Flatbread, who was making pizzas in their wood-fired oven.
We grabbed a slice of cheese to share. This pizza is simple, but so tasty. Lucky for all of us, they sell their pizzas in the grocery store freezer case!
In Maine, I wanted the home decor being sold in every booth. These posters were awesome.
How cool are these decorated buoys? I wish I had a vacation home to hang them in.
In addition to lobster rolls, Maine was also selling Wicked Whoopie Pies. There were some the size of a human head!
I was excited to see what the Massachusetts state house would have to offer. First of all, Massachusetts was the only house with a voter registration booth. Inside, I loved this poster on the back wall.
We did walk through New Hampshire (though I didn't take any photos) but we skipped Rhode Island. It was getting awfully crowded by that point and we were done being herded.
We went back out into the fresh air and in search of my friend's favorite fair food - fried cheese curds. I'd never had cheese curds before and he assured me I would love them.
I thought they tasted like a tater tot, but he insisted they tasted more like a mozzarella stick, where the cheese is really the star. We had ours plain, but you can also get a side of marinara sauce or ranch dressing.
Next we walked to the Farm-a-Rama building (yes, that's its real name), where you could see and pet more animals. The chicks are the main event here and this sign had me cracking up.
Around the corner from the fluffy, yellow baby chicks, you could actually watch chicks hatching. Last year they had over 3,000 chicks hatch during the fair! We saw about six just in the few minutes were standing there.
A few feet away are the pigs and I finally understood the term "pig pile." These napping piggies were so cute I couldn't stand it!
The Farm-a-Rama building is also home to the largest pumpkins and squash. In the midst of the enormous pumpkins was this intricately carved one.
At this point, we had been at the fair over three hours and our legs were starting to feel it. There was one final item we had to try after seeing it when we first walked in. At Fluffy's, they serve something called a donut sundae.
You pick a flavor of donut for the base, a flavor of soft serve and then you can top it with strawberry sauce or hot fudge. We went with an Oreo donut, chocolate and vanilla twist soft serve and the strawberry sauce.
We grabbed a picnic table and started to attack this mountain of sugar. While we were sitting, a dozen people popped over to ask what we were eating and where they could get one. This may be one of my favorite things I have ever eaten.
I left the Big E full and happy. It was so fun to walk around, visit all the different areas and of course, stuff ourselves with junk food. We didn't make it to Midway, which is the rides area, but I'm such a wimp that I didn't mind at all.
I had such a good time that I'm hoping to make this an annual tradition.
If you'd like to visit the fair this year, it's open through Sunday, September 30.
Tell me, have you ever been to the Big E? What food items do I need to try next time?