DOAG: BIG E PREVIEW



August 22, 2018

BIG E PREVIEW

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

Fried dough, Ferris wheels, and family fun are on the horizon as the Big E returns to the Eastern States Exhibition September 14-30, 2018 in West Springfield, MA. In 2017, the annual event attracted 1,525,553 visitors, setting an attendance record.

One of the most popular attractions at the Big E is the Avenue of States, which includes buildings for all six New England States (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) coordinates exhibit spaces for agricultural vendors within the Connecticut Building, offering a unique opportunity to showcase the diversity of Connecticut agriculture and Connecticut Grown specialty products.

More than 25 Connecticut farms, small agricultural businesses and agricultural non-profit organizations will rotate through the booth spaces during the 17-day fair. Past attendees cite brand awareness, education, and product sales as top reasons for exhibiting.

Avis and Richard Norman of Norman’s Sugar House in Woodstock, CT, have been exhibiting in the building for more than 35 years showcasing their maple syrup, maple cream, maple candy, and honey products. They have seen their share of changes and recall when livestock was allowed in the building and a horse was stalled next to them. When they started, Richard was the president of the Maple Syrup Producers of Connecticut.

“In the beginning it was good advertising to promote Connecticut’s maple industry as a whole - many people didn’t realize we produced syrup,” he reflected. “Now we sell our own products and continue educating consumers.”

Other returning farms include Cold Spring Farm, Flatland Alpacas, Killam & Bassette Farmstead, Six Paca Farm, Sweet Wind Farm, and Twin Pines Farm. New to the lineup this year will be Newgate Farm, Super Soups, Tonn’s Orchard, and Urban Roots.

Connecticut agricultural industry service providers and organizations, including the Farm Bureau Association, Apple Marketing Board, Milk Promotion Board, Bridgeport Aquaculture School, Roses for Autism, Sheep Breeder’s Association, Dairy Industry Council, Poultry Association, CTAgFairs.org, 2nd Company Governor’s Horse Guard, and the Agricultural Experiment Station, will also be in attendance.

Connecticut Day will be held on Wednesday, September 19. Many of the programs and services available through DoAg will be represented, including Aquaculture, Resource Conservation and the Connecticut Grown Store.

Connecticut’s farm wineries will also be well represented through the efforts of the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council. Nine wineries, including Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Hopkins Vineyard, Jonathan Edwards Winery, Jones Family Farms Winery, Lost Acres Vineyard, Rosedale Vineyards, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Taylor Brooke Winery and Land of Nod Winery, will be pouring samples for fairgoers to taste. In addition to samples, staff will also be selling wine by the glass to be enjoyed at the fair or by the bottle to take home.

On Friday, September 28, the Connecticut Building will join the other states along the Avenue to celebrate Harvest New England Day. In 1992 the New England states formed Harvest New England as a collaborative to facilitate sales of agricultural products.

A Harvest New England passport program encourages fairgoers to visit each state building to learn about their production agriculture, answer questions, and collect a stamp. Upon completing their passport they are eligible to receive a commemorative tote bag.

On this special day, the front lawn of the Connecticut Building will host a variety of Connecticut farm businesses, including Creamery Brook Bison with bison chili and burgers; Killam and Bassette Farmstead with apple pie jam pancakes, and Cold Spring Farm with a variety of fresh produce and educational materials. DoAg will also be visible with an agriculture trivia wheel, giveaways, and staff ready to stamp passports.

Outside of the Connecticut Building, there are a host of agricultural activities such as beef, dairy, sheep, and swine shows, sheep dog trials, and the Eastern States Exposition Horse Show, in addition to wine, cheese and cider competitions.

The Big E also offers concerts, rides, a daily Mardi Gras parade, and many other activities. For more information visit www.thebige.com. Admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-12. Children five and under are free.

If you are an agricultural business or organization interested in exhibiting in the future, please contact Rebecca Eddy at Rebecca.Eddy@ct.gov or 860-713-2538.