For years I’ve thought about visiting the Big E, the largest fair in the East held in each September in West Springfield Mass. On 2014 Connecticut day I woke up and decided to head there.

On this day of leisure, I wanted to let things happen naturally and so I took a wayfaring approach with a few priorities - to be in some of my photos, exhibits and events that focused on animals, agriculture, states exhibits, the parade and musical performances.

I was stunned on how easy it was to strike a balance of “me time” and engage with others. The simple action of asking a question every so often was all it took to start easing going conversations and to learn about  the experiences of others. I spoke with staff, vendors, exhibitors, attendees and parade participants.  

My visit began with some of the farm animals and farmers as a warmup. I attended the cute little pig races near gate 9A.  I was amazed by the 750 pumpkin grown by 7 year old Emma in Pittsfield  and by the photos of people creating little passenger boats with carved out oversized pumpkins!

I loved viewing all the food for sale and bravely went to look at the famous cream puffs and eclairs. I fought off the temptation to have one. I tried to attend the circus, but supply of seats didn’t meet demand that day.

My favorite place was the staging area for the parade. i spoke with a diverse group including the Hartford Roller Derby team, South Winds Kennel Club, the EPA and the folks in retro cars and trucks. I had the best photo opportunity for Clydesdale horses compared to those watching from the parade route.

For food, I highly recommend the lobster rolls in the back of the Maine state pavilion. Tender, packed with lobster meat, no mayo and a melt in your mouth roll. ($10) The bowl of clam chowder in the back of the Massachusetts building was wonderful ($5). Next visit I will try the chowder in the Rhode Island building! I did see folks enjoying apple pie in the Maine state building apple pie topped with a thick slice of cheddar cheese that looked interesting.  It seemed every other person was eating a stuffed baked potato!

During the day, its easy to navigate around the site. After sunset I found it a little challenging. A quick stop at one of the information booths helped me avoid “detours”. I made sure I had a clear ideas of where I parked earlier in the day. Parking lots are huge and I was parked in an unpaved area - nice to have the courtesy golf cart service to get to my car. I felt very safe from start to finish.

I’m glad I went to the Big E. It exceeded my expectations. Adult entrance to the Big E is $15, parking $10, program $3. The 2014 fair is Sept 12-28.

 This story published on Hamlet Hub Milford by Gotta Travel Solo