The Big E.

The last few years in the later part of September I would trek off to Pennsylvania to go to The Bloomsburg Fair. You can read about it here and here. This year, however, I decided to shake things up a bit and I went with my parents to The Big E which is like a state fair on steroids (at least for this area, apparently the Minnesota and Iowa State Fairs are CRAY) and it was delightful. It’s a fair for all the states that comprise New England – Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. I went for two words. Butter. Sculpture.

Let’s take it from the top.

Here was the sign at the entrance. It disappoints me that the sign says “animals,” and then it says “reptiles.” Like reptiles aren’t animals. I bet there are more than a few iguanas who would take offense at that. I am warm-blooded and I took offense on their behalf.


The first thing we saw was the sheep-judging and we arrived at the pinnacle of cuteness. There were three little kids in the ring with their sheep, and the kids were wearing wool items to reinforce their love of sheep and sheepy products. There was a nine-year-old girl, a seven-year-old girl, and this sweetie-pants of a six-year-old boy whose sheep would not stand still. The little boy was so calm while this animal that was easily one and a half times bigger than him circled around him. My heart, it melted from the precious.


It was common for people showing off their prize-winning animals to dress up as something pertinent to the animal’s breed or place of origin. This woman was showing off her ram while holding skis. The ram had a wool sweater around his neck which I thought was very meta.


I got to check out some sheep in protective outfits that made them look like knights from the Round Table. The hoodies kept their wool from getting matted or hooked on things.


There were also a ton of cattle. This Holstein mooed in my face. I loved it. It was a low sound and it reverberated in my breastbone. AND his breath smelled like grass and hay. A win-win all around. I asked him to moo in my face again, but he was over it. Bovine diva.


The 4-H program is all over the world, but this is one of the only places in the country where 4-H kids could show yoked oxen. We watched the youngins show off their yoked oxen and it amused me that all they had in their hand was a long stick. Years and years of agricultural advances and the best tool to control two very large animals continues to be… a long stick. My favorite oxen was the pair of splotchy Jackson Pollock ones.

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After hanging out with the livestock for a while we went to the Farm-A-Rama.


Where we saw a mommy alpaca with a baby alpaca. Awwwww.


And chicks being born! Which I could not take any photos of because of the crowd around it. I could only see by hopping around the perimeter. Luckily I went on Google and found someone else’s picture of it. This is from


Those poor little chickies worked so hard to get out of those shells! Many of them got out and were so tired they just took a nap for ten minutes. Then they dried off and made peeping noises and ambled around a bit with those perpetu-grumples expressions chickens always have.

There was a singing vegetable show. Has everyone here been to Stew Leonard’s? Whatever company builds those animatronic anthropomorphic singing farm animals also does animatronic anthropomorphic singing vegetables, which is good to know. People were sitting there watching this like it was an Tony-award-winning play.


In Farm-A-Rama there was a contest for the best painted pumpkins:


And award-winning gourds that were not painted:


And morbidly obese pumpkins that looked like they consumed a couch:


And a mentally-challenged llama (also known as “a llama”) with some serious janky lower teeth. The Moomins petted it.


The best thing in the Farm-A-Rama was when my mother saw some Clydesdale horses and said, “Oh, they must be standing on a platform.”


And I got to take her around the side and see them up close so she would understand that no, they are not standing on a platform. She was blown away. Clydesdales are ridiculously huge. Like you expect Thor to show up and ride one and maybe flames to shoot out its nostrils and sparks to shoot from its hooves. Seriously, they are big. The man in the picture below was a solid 6’4″ tall to give you a sense of scale.

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They told us that the Clydesdales were being hitched up to participate in a fair near the Avenue of States, so we made a point to head over there.

After I left the Farm-A-Rama Pavilion I encountered my raison d’etre for this whole trip.


BUTTER SCULPTURE. It was in a horse-trailer-sized refrigerated case and it was a table covered with milk products. There was also a big butter cow in there, but it didn’t really look that impressive. The table laden with various lactobjects was the real eye-catcher.

We finally made it over to the Avenue of States. Remember, this fair is for all the states included in New England, so each one had its own building with its own food and crafts within. This was Rhode Island’s building.


And this was Massachusetts. Way to rock the symbols of the British monarchy, Massachusetts!


Here’s a shot of the rest of the street. You can see the rest of the buildings with their spires.


Then the parade started! So exciting! I love parades so much. Any activity where I can sit completely still (I am layzeeee) and cool things go past me, I love. So that includes parades and fireworks. Love ’em. There were a bunch of different marching bands, some in regular band outfits and some in patriot American period garb.

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There was some cars with important people in them that I could not identify, probably local government officials and famous sports people. I waved and clapped anyway. Just because I’m ignorant doesn’t mean I have to be rude. They waved, I waved back.

One things that made me laugh was a large truck sponsored by both a fence-building company and a gymnastics school for girls. The truck had a large complex wooden fence built around the perimeter and it was full of pretty young tween girls with fancy bows in their hair, none of whom seemed particularly thrilled to be there. The problem is it totally looked like they were sub-par gymnasts are were being sent to slaughter at the stockyard. It was like a disturbing warning. “Practice your tumbles, Missy! You don’t want to end up on the Crappy Cartwheel Surplus Girl Truck, do you? DO YOU???” Unfortunately the truck was going pretty fast and I was laughing so I didn’t get a picture of it, but just imagine tightly packed surliness rolling by.

Then there were the various states as represented by the 4-H members, and each state had… a teeny horse! They were so wee and cute! Most of them looked like smaller versions of regular horses:


But one of them appeared to have dwarf genes. I called it the Peter Dinklage of Horses.


Followed by gigantor horses! It was a day of equine extremes!


And then Mardi Gras floats. They seemed out of place. I loved them, but there was an elephant and a volcano and some African shields and a Venetian mask. Totally appropriate for New Orleans Fat Tuesday, oddly chosen for Western Massachusetts. The ‘Murkin float was the only one that fit in.

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After the parade I realized I had been walking around for five hours and that was enough, so we headed out. It was wonderful. I saw everything I wanted and more. Some other bits and pieces:

The Oingle Peninsula. That’s a place. Oingle.


There was some lovely award-winning thread and yarn work. Snorth! You seeing this? I thought of you while I looked at all the fiber-crafts.


And finally, I paid a nice man ten dollars to led The Moomins hold a tiny warm baby pig. It was precious. According to The Moomins, it was “tender and warm and a bit bristly.” She was smitten.

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Addendum: We stopped at a gas station. This man was parked there. I had questions which I chose to keep to myself.


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