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Agriculture and entertainment at the Big E

Eastern States Exhibition, also known as the Big E, is the nation's sixth largest fair, showcasing the agriculture of the New England region for a million visitors every year. In fact, many refer to it as "New England's Great State fair," as it represents animals, produce and farmers from all six of the region's states. The emphasis is on the renowned annual livestock show and the agricultural education elements, but there's a little something for everyone, from a Mardi Gras parade to carnival games to musical entertainment. If you're considering taking part in this intriguing event, consider reserving your Massachusetts car rental for mid-September when the fair takes over West Springfield for 17 days. Guests can also choose to use BostonRhode Island or Connecticut rental cars - the site is easily accessible from Thrifty Rental stores in all three states.

About the Eastern States Exhibition

While the Big E is now the biggest agricultural fair in the nation, it was once just a modest little fest. The first installment took place in autumn 1917, just as the country was joining in on the Great War. It was established by famed agriculturalist Joshua L. Brooks as a way to educate the public about the importance of farming and crop production with livestock and equipment displays representing all states in the New England region - Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. About 138,000 people showed up to that first event, held on the fairgrounds on Memorial Avenue. Though a large turnout for its day, it has since grown more than five times that size and expanded to include carnival elements, live entertainment and other family-friendly features. Today, it's a highlight of autumn and a beloved New England tradition anticipated throughout the year.

Events and activities at the Big E

When you arrive at the fairgrounds, whether you're driving a Providence car rental or Hartford car rental, you'll be greeted by crowds of proud New England residents. Park at gate 9 (keep in mind that the fee is $10 and there are no ATMs near the gate), then stroll the grounds to find some of the main attractions of the fair. The livestock show is the focal point, displaying farm animals tended to by dedicated farmers from all across the region - expect to see more than 25 different breeds of hogs, sheep, goats, cattle and other creatures. The show is the biggest of its kind on the Eastern seaboard, and the first-place winner takes home the most coveted of all agricultural awards: the Eastern States Exposition Grand Champion prize.

Visitors interested in learning more about the agriculture of the region can explore the educational exhibits, take part in interactive demonstrations and even compete in horse-pulling and cow-milking demonstrations. There are also a plethora of entertainment features held throughout the 17-day event, including live music, crafts fairs and tours of Storrowton Village, which is brimming with historic houses that contain centuries-old antiques, furnishings and artwork. The kids and young at heart will especially enjoy Magic Midway, the carnival area that has everything from children​'s games to exhilarating rides like the Drop of Fear.

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