Great ideas stand the test of time. That is truly the case of the Big E in West Springfield, which for the last hundred years has showcased the agricultural richness and innovative businesses of the New England region, all the while entertaining, educating, feeding and inspiring tens of millions of visitors.
When the Eastern States Exposition opened in 1916, it was a display of American-made products, from manufacturing and machinery to farm and seafood products, representing all thirteen states on the Eastern Seaboard down to Virginia. Over time the Exposition focused on New England and its bounty of agricultural products and businesses. That has remained the theme this year.
Thursday, April 22 was Massachusetts Day, an opportunity for fair-goers to look closely at all the Commonwealth has to offer in terms of its agricultural community, tourism assets and small businesses.
Governor Charlie Baker called Massachusetts Day a day “to celebrate the many hard-working farmers across the state that produce healthy, local products for the citizens of Massachusetts.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said it was “a perfect opportunity to showcase the diversity of high-quality, locally-grown and made products available in the Commonwealth.”
Francois-Laurent Nivoud, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT), praised the Big E for it success in drawing tourists from across the region as well as eastern Canada and the Mid-Atlantic States. Increasingly, overseas visitors are also finding their way to the Big E for a genuine Americana experience.
Nivoud points out that the state’s agricultural industry is now an integral part of the tourism industry, sprouting new visitor products like agri-tourism, culinary tourism and experiential learning tourism. The local renaissance of craft beer breweries and wineries are not added to traditional tourism outings like apple picking and foliage tours.
Finally, the Big E presents a distinct regional flavor for New England, one of the nation’s earliest regions dating back to the 17th century. This coincides with efforts by the organization Discover New England, which includes Mass Office of Travel & Tourism and state tourism agencies of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, to provide a singular marketing campaign that reaches overseas visitors.
Congratulations Big E, and here’s to another hundred years!