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Your guide to the Big E

The Big E, also called the Eastern States Exhibition, is one of the highlights of the autumn season in the northeastern region. That's precisely why it's been dubbed "New England's Great State fair." It's one of the top 10 biggest fairs in the country, focusing on agriculture throughout all six of the region's states, but it's about a lot more than just farming. Visitors can enjoy all the features of a grand extravaganza, from live music to arts and crafts to parades. It takes place over more than two weeks in September in the delightful city of West Springfield, Massachusetts, which is accessible from several different directions - book your Massachusetts car rental now in advance or select from BostonRhode Island or Connecticut rental cars to get around.

History of the Big E

The Eastern States Exhibition started out as a humble event at the beginning of the 20th century but has since grown to become the largest agricultural celebration in the region. The brainchild of Joshua L. Brooks, it came into being just when America was becoming involved in World War I, and its first year saw some 138,000 visitors gathering on the Memorial Avenue fairgrounds to discover new man-made creations and see agricultural shows representing livestock from all six states that make up New England: Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire. Today, the event attracts more than a million people each year. The huge crowds are proof of the massive appeal of this fair, but it can also mean a lot of congestion on the streets. For this reason, you may find it best to leave your Big E car rental at the hotel and use take advantage of shuttle or taxi services.

What to expect at the exhibition

While in the past the exhibition featured little more than livestock shows and new contraptions, it is now made up of a variety of agricultural, entertainment and family-friendly events and activities. Visitors can expect to take part in craft workshops, vote for their favorite artworks in creative showcases and discover early American crafts and antiques in the historic buildings of Storrowton Village. Musicians perform for the audience on stage while kids and adults alike have fun on the Magic Midway, which has a variety of carnival games and rides - two of the most beloved of which are the Drop of Fear and Giant Wheel.

The livestock showing is one of the biggest highlights, and it feature more than 25 different breeds of animals, including goats, sheep, hogs and cattle, grown and cared for by farmers from all across the New England region. It's the largest event of its kind in the eastern U.S., awarding one winner each year with the coveted Eastern States Exposition Grand Champion prize. Other agricultural events that bring in the crowds include cow milking and horse pulling contests, hands-on demonstrations of farming methods, educational exhibits and the renowned Eastern States Exposition Horse Show. Keep in mind that parking your Providence car rental or Hartford car rental will cost $10 per day, and there are no ATMs near the entrance gate, so come with cash in hand.

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