After a long summer in the sun, it’s time to switch up the excitement and head out to West Springfield for The Big E Festival. Less than two hours from Boston, this event offers all of the makings of a fun-filled day. Enjoy the music, food, games, rides, animals, crafts and daily parade as you spend quality time with family and friends.
The Big E
875 Memorial Ave
West Springfield, MA 01089
Date: Sept. 14 to 30 – gates open at 8 a.m.
Price: $12 advanced adult ticket/$8 one-day advance child 6 to 12/$40 17-day adult value pass/$20 17-day child 6 to 12/$10 opening day ticket
The Big E offers entertainment, agriculture, vendors, exhibits, and activities all in one place. This year’s features include concerts by Rodney Atkins and Alan Jackson, the spectacular Mardi Gras parade, and the Big E Super Circus. The Eastern States Exposition Big E Horse Show is also held here, but starts two days prior to the Big E on September 12. Stroll the grounds, plan your day around the agriculture events found here, or perhaps check out the list of vendors here so you don’t miss a thing.
Take the Mass Pike west to exit 6/Springfield. Turn left at the light, and follow I-291 south to I-91 south to exit 3. From there follow the Big E signs. This 82-mile drive is a straight shot from Boston. Once in the Springfield area, local and state police will redirect drivers during heavy traffic conditions to the quickest route.
Parking is available at Gate 9 for $10 per vehicle. Handicapped parking and drop-off is also located here at Gate 9A. A limited number of parking spaces are available for self-contained camper units for $20 per space/per day.
Comcast Arena Stage
Date: Sept. 21, 23, and 28 to 30
The Comcast Arena stage has outdoor seating for more than 6,000 people, and is where top-name artists perform. This year’s acts feature Hot Chelle Rae, Rodney Atkins, Billy Currington, Jeff Dunham, Alan Jackson and a freestyle motocross show. Other than ticketed shows, seating is free and on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Court of Honor Stage also hosts free performances daily. This year that stage will include The Stars of the Peking Acrobats, Bill Medley, Eddie Holman, Joey Molland and Shannon.
The Big E Mardi Gras Parade
Date: Sept. 14 to 30
The daily Mardi Gras parade consists of eight hand-crafted floats: Carnival in Rio, the Boeuf Gras, Carneval di Venice, Mardi Gras New Orleans, Island Party, Caribbean Carnival, a Patriotic float and an African-themed float. Animals, Big E contingents and a band also march in the parade. After watching the parade, head over to the Big Top tent to see the Super Circus, which features daily shows at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. A canine display, aerial show, comedian, thrill riders and a balancing act will have everyone on the edge of their seats.
Related: Road Trip: Bristol, Rhode Island
Storrowton Village Museum
Date: Sept. 14 to 30
Storrowton Village Museum boasts an educational exhibit of the 19th-century variety. It offers children hands-on exhibits and costumed demonstrators perfect for learning and fun. Farm-A-Rama is located in the Stroh Building and features live animals, giant crops and landscape ideas. View the giant pumpkins, see sheep shearing, milk the model cow, and watch hatching chicks. Stop by the Farm-A-Rama stage to learn about agriculture production, dogs and exotic bird rescue.
Better Living Center
Date: Sept. 14 to 30
Vendor merchandise at the Better Living Center includes classic favorites and innovative, new products. You will find everything from lipstick to furniture to concessions here. The fairtime vendors are divided into the Better Living Center, craft exhibitors, the Young Building, outdoor exhibitors and the Avenue of States Buildings, so don’t forget to visit them all.
Date: Sept.14 to 30
Price: $20 in advance/$25 at the midway
The North American Midway offers rides for people of all ages. Spin around on the Spinout, go up and down on the Crazy Flip, swing back and forth on the Fireball, make a splash on the Niagara Falls Flume, or rock out on the Polar Express. Take a relaxing ride on the Giant Wheel for an aerial view of the Big E. Bring younger children to Kiddieland to enjoy rides of their own. Win a prize on one of the many games, or treat yourself to cotton candy, a candy apple or a corn dog.
20 Springfield St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Price: from $140
If one day at The Big E is not enough, book a night at Naomi’s Inn. Relax and unwind at this charming bed and breakfast after a long day at the fair. Amenities include private baths, free WiFi, easy highway access, off-street parking and complimentary breakfast. The Inn is child and pet friendly, so feel free to bring along the whole family. Warm and inviting guest rooms include the Louis XIV suite, the British travel suite, and the French market suite.
254 Worthington St.
Springfield, MA 01103
This authentic Italian restaurant is owned and operated by Victor Bruno and named for his father, murdered mob boss Adolfo Bruno. The menu features classic recipes brought over from the old country, including Florentine, carbonara or bolognese pastas, chicken or veal parmigiana, and cannoli or tiramisu for dessert. The extensive wine list offers something for everyone and will surely complement any meal. Dishes are made with fresh, local ingredients, along with fine imported Italian products. Parking is never a problem as valet service is available daily.
Kim Vareika is the owner of Vareika Personal Training and Yoga in Plainville. She has been in the fitness industry for over ten years, and believes that wellness is about more than just physical health. When she is not teaching, practicing, or writing, she resides in Bridgewater where she enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her nephew Caesar. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.