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2017 Wrap-up

EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION BREAKS ATTENDANCE RECORD

1,525,553 Attend the 2017 Big E

A record number of visitors attended The Big E, in West Springfield, Mass., breaking the Fair’s all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,525,553. The previous record, of 1,498,605, was set in 2014. October 1 attendance was 137,208, also a new record for the final Sunday of the 17-day Fair.

During the Fair’s run, the all-time highest single day attendance record was also broken when 171,897 visitors attended Saturday, Sept. 23. Three additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 21, 85,019; Sept. 28, 89,905; and Sept. 29, 109,871.

Eugene J. Cassidy, president and chief executive officer of the Exposition, said, “I am humbled to see the incredible support of Eastern States Exposition by our loyal fair patrons. The 2017, 101st edition of The Big E broke records again, recording for the first time in history over 1.5 million guests. Patrons of New England’s Great State Fair braved days of punishing temperatures that pushed the heat index to above 100 degrees, they endured a 55 degree drop in temperature accompanied by rain, and yet they came in great numbers to participate in, enjoy and support this organization and all it stands for.” New exhibits, a diverse concert line-up, fabulous Fair foods, rides and unique shopping experiences provided something for everyone in the family.

World-Class Entertainment
The ambitious entertainment line-up this year included ticketed and free concerts at the xfinity arena including: Cole Swindell, for KING & COUNTRY, Grand Funk Railroad, Smash Mouth, Cam, Night Ranger and the TwinE Country Fest.

The covered seating area at the Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by xfinity, again created a musical oasis in the center of the fairgrounds. Highlights included Vintage Trouble, Village People, Ten Years After, the Lovin’ Spoonful, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, “American Idol” winner Nick Fradiani, with Carly & Martina and the White Hut Cheeseburg Eating Contest. The action wrapped up on Sunday, October 1 with The Machine Performs Pink Floyd.

The new “E” Stage featured a Songwriters Series, up-and-coming artists and the Masters of Music competition.

Other offerings were Camel Kingdom, Mardi Gras and Daily parades, The Big E Circus Spectacular, Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy, a variety of car shows, and the Collector Car Experience featuring Mike Brewer and Wayne Carini.

Exhibits
Eastern States Exposition: A Walk Through History debuted in the Hampden County Building’s auditorium and will become a permanent museum with rotating exhibits outlining the rich agricultural and educational history of the Exposition. On display were historic items from the Exposition’s archives, including a replica of the Skyride, posters, hockey memorabilia, ribbons, pennants, photographs and more. Also on display was a small-scale replica of Storrowton Village and Brooks’ family possessions donated by the late Grace Brooks Knibbs, granddaughter of Exposition founder, Joshua L. Brooks.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, sponsored by Uncommon USA, recreated one of the world’s greatest artistic achievements through photographic reproduction. The highlights of the famous painter’s work were displayed in their original size. For art lovers who might not get the chance to visit Michelangelo’s masterpiece in Italy, this was a great way to experience the timeless masterpieces.

Delectable Dining
We welcomed new additions to the dining experience in 2017 including: the Flatliner Burger from the West Springfield Lions Club; the two-level Bud & Burger Pub, featuring the specially created Big TastE Burger; The Deep South Company added a second story and featured Waffle Chicken Bites; the Deep Fried Holy Cannoli from the Coffee Break; Gourmet Candy Apples from Carol’s Concessions; gourmet tater tots at Tots-A-Lot; homemade soups at Storrowton’s Soup Shack; Falafel Fresh in The Big E Bistro; Food Truck Way outside the Better Living Center; and the West Side Grille in the Young Building. The “Spencer Trappist Beer Bar and Experience” brought us a newly created Reserve Ale (a Trappist Quadrupel). Guests also devoured our Big E Cream Puffs and Eclairs, as well as The Big E Craz-E Burger.

Agriculture
The Exposition’s Farm Gate Exhibit made its debut with the Creamery featuring winners from the seventh annual Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition, the Fiber Nook, a Wine Café where fairgoers could enjoy a glass of wine and assorted jams, jellies and cured meats. Winners of the Fair’s 12th annual Big E Northeast Gold Wine Competition were sampled and sold in the adjacent Wine Barn. During the course of the Fair, more than 9,000 4-Hers and FFA members participated in competitions and presented educational demonstrations. The 4-H Beef Grand Champion Steer was purchased by ESE Chairman of the Board Donald R. Chase, at the Fair’s auction for $4.75/lb. The steer was raised by Olivia Briggs of Sullivan, New Hampshire.

The ESE Horse Show, sponsored by Williams Distributing, featured Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation, the USHJA Zone I HOTY finals and the $15,000 Hunter Classic as well as Saddlebreds, Hackneys, Morgans, Friesians and Opportunity Classes. The Big E Draft Horse Show included the 2017 North American Classic Cart Series Finals and the $35,000 Big E Six-Horse Hitch Showdown, won by Trippcrest Farm of Harrison, Maine. The ESE Equestrian Hall of Fame Induction ceremony honored Liz Rooney, a longtime career horsewoman, Sept. 15.

New England Traditions
Each state building along the Avenue of States put its best foot forward to bring our fairgoers an authentic New England experience. Storrowton Village Museum offered tours of its 19th century buildings, staffed with “villagers” going about their daily routines, as well as historic demonstrations on the Green.

New England Center – This home of The Big E’s Creative Arts department, housed displays of entries and winners in competitions for quilting, lace making, rug hooking, doll making and knitting competitions. The department set a record with 1,438 total entries throughout all contests and judged 213 quilts and a record 490 entries photography contest.

Social media outreach to our fans and followers across the Internet continued to grow this year. When the Fair ended, The Big E had over 217,000 Likes on Facebook, more than 11.6K followers on Twitter, and 13.2K followers on Instagram. Facebook Live was a big hit offering a new look at The Big E each morning.

About The Big E
Founded in 1916, The Big E is America’s only multi-state fair celebrating the rich history, culture and traditions of the six New England states. As the principal event of Eastern States Exposition, The Big E has presented the finest livestock; agriculture; innovative commercial, industrial, and artistic developments; and the highest caliber of varied entertainment to the people of the northeastern United States for over a century. The Big E annually draws well over 1 million visitors through its gates in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and the 17-day event has grown to become the largest fair in the Northeast.

And the tradition continues next fall – September 14-30, 2018. Stay up to date with all the happenings at Eastern States Exposition. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and join our mailing list – all from our home page – TheBigE.com.

Eastern States Exposition hosts more than 100 shows and events throughout the year. Don’t miss the seventh annual Fiber Festival of New England (details at fiberfestival.org), November 4 & 5, Yuletide at Storrowton, Dec. 2 & 3, or The Big East Regional Youth and Jackpot Show, May 4-6, 2018.

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Media Contacts:

Catherine Pappas
Public Relations & Communications Manager, The Big E
413.205.5041 | cpappas@thebige.com

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