Taking on The Big E.

Fall in New England means two things – leaves changing colors and fairs! Pick any weekend in September or October and you’re sure to find at least one town fair going on. Town fairs can be a nice time – quaint with animals, a few carnival rides and some fried goodies. However, fellow New Englanders know that the fair of all fairs is The Big E, which opened today.

Known as “New England’s Great State Fair,” The Big E serves as the state fair for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Represented at the Avenue of States, each state has a replica of their statehouse where vendors promote the heritage, tourism and foods of their state. For example, the Vermont building promotes Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream, cheese and maple syrup while the Connecticut building promotes Lego and tomatoes . Like most state fairs, there is a strong agricultural presence at the Big E. You can find live animals (chickens, sheep, Clydesdales, llamas, etc.), farmers’ crops displays and landscape design displays in the Farm-A-Rama.

But let’s be honest, like most fairs, it’s really all about the foods. I mean, why else would they have a “Big E Food Finder” on their website?

You can find everything from baked potatoes to fried cheese curds; corn dogs to fried veggies; maple candy cones to cream puffs the size of your head; dips to clam fritters (I think you get the point here.). Perhaps you have a hankering for a bacon cheeseburger served on a glazed doughnut? Don’t worry – you can find it at The Big E! Of course, my favorite part about The Big E is the various beer gardens. Yum! (Ok, I also like the corn dogs, cheese curds, bread bowl, dips, etc.)

My first trip to The Big E was in 2008 where I became overwhelmed with wanting to try as many fried deliciousness culinary delights as I could. Maple cone? Yes, please! Soup in a bread bowl? Sure, why not? Mini-donuts? I’ll take 12. Needless to say, I ate way too much and ended up getting sick. Last year my boyfriend and I decided that we would try to split each order. One order of fried cheese curds – easy. Clam fritters for two – no biggie. Corn dogs…well you can’t share one of those so two please. Well, since you’re allergic to cinnamon I will have to polish off this bag of mini-doughnuts myself (and so on). It was a futile attempt.

This year P and I have agreed to the same pact as last year – splitting food orders (when possible – I still can’t share a corn dog). While I joke with my friends by saying that I’m going to break out the maternity jeans for our trip to The Big E, I am genuinely concerned with overeating. The Big E only happens once a year, and I realize that one day of indulging won’t undo anything, I want to be aware of the fact that I shouldn’t choose my “wants” over my “needs”. Sure I *want* New England clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, but at same time I *need* to ask myself “Self, are you that hungry right now?” or “Self, do you think we could get the chowder sans bread bowl?” I’m know that no matter what I do, I will still consume far too many calories during my trip to The Big E (sorry WW, we’re on a break that day), but I honestly feel that I can avoid going on a free for all. I also cannot spend the day worrying about this too much – I can only do my best.

I am really looking forward to spending this yearly tradition with my friends people watching, sipping beers in the gardens, trying dips – “I think this garlic one would be hit at our party next weekend, but I better try this bacon cheddar one once more” – and eating corn dogs (notice an obsession here?).


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