It was Connecticut Day at the Big E this past Wednesday and according the staff, one of the largest attendance days. Go CT!
The Parade - there are lots of CT related high school bands, the Governor and her Foot Guard, the State Police, fife and drum, Miss Pre-Teen CT, Miss Teen CT, and Miss CT all riding in shiny convertible cars and lots of others. The end of the parade was the Budweiser Clydesdales and the Hallamore Clydesdales each had a eight-horse hitch. Of course there is the poo zamboni ending the parade. The horses are so amazing, their size and strength of these gentle giants pulling the wagons. If you go to the barns, you can get pretty up close to these horses.
After a bout with morning traffic, I arrived and set up at the the New England Building / Creative Arts. Actually we don't really have a space, we set up in the aisle. It would be nice if we had a 'real' space we could set up in (hmm idea for next year). Linda (fellow lacemaker) met me there and we organized ourselves so we could talk with the patrons about lace. I met Linda at the fair last year and helped her rekindle her love for lace making.
Before you know it, the building opens with a raising of the American flag, accompanied by a group of fife and drum musicians. It is fun to watch the patrons go by, some are outright curious and come up and declare that I'm tatting (lol) and others are too shy unless you invite them over to see what we are doing. The patrons like to touch - so I bring a pillow for folks to actually work some lace - the 'snake'. Time goes so quickly. Some where around three and a half hours into it, I could feel my voice getting scratchy. I really enjoy it, and can continue on and on about cross and twist and counting to four. Stop by next year and watch us lace makers.
After volunteering for four hours (requirement to get a ticket and parking), I had the rest of the day to get around the grounds. I watch the beef cattle get showed and receive their ribbons. There were dairy goats, dairy cows, sheep and assorted other farm animals. This is the best part of the show/fair for me. I love to watch the hatchling chicks pop out of their eggs and tiny pigglettes wiggle around in a pen. Sheep are the best. Sheep Rule. One thing you need to know about the fair especially if you want to see the animals. There are barn change over days so watch what day you want. There may not be many animals to see.
Better Living Center is a riot. There are all kinds of vendors willing to sell you anything to make your life better. From fancy showers for your bath, to window screens, a blender, lots of pots and pans dealers, and even a guy selling a mop! It is really alot of fun.
So what is a country fair without eating your way around? That's easy - it wouldn't be a fair. There is just about everything known to man to have to eat at this fair. Big E Cream Puffs are amazing. (not for me this year) I was pretty good, a large fresh brewed Sam Adams beer to walk around with after demonstrating was just what my voice needed. Lunch, a taco chicken salad in a shell, lots of water to drink. Dinner had me search for fried clams that I found in the Rhode Island State house (yum yum), a little ice cream and a coffee to go at the end of the night. Of course you can eat your way into oblivion.
My feet were giving out, I actually walked around enough to log some 4 miles on my pedometer! I found gel insoles in the Better Living Building. That helped a bunch. Though the best find was back at the Fiber Nook - (near the sheep). I have a new genuine handcrafted sheepskin scuffs! Even better - they are made by Golden Fleece Fashions in Caterbury, CT ! I met the owner, Adele, and she said they are good 'forever'. She was repairing a pair a customer brought back because the dog ate off the toes!
I have a great pair that family gave me from LLBean. Each year I call to get another pair, unfortunately they don't carry this type any longer made slippers any longer and they weren't US made when they did. My feet are nice a warm and I can have now preserve the other pair a bit longer. Don't you just love sheep!
While food is plentiful, so is the shopping. Everything you could imagine. I give the vendors a hat's off. These guys travel in motor homes and are on the fair circuit for five months of the year. Most of them say the Big E is the best! I took cards from several artist types, need to do some measuring at home before buying.
Another year, and another Big E. I was trying to think of the number of times I've come to this festival. My parents brought us and we camped out somewhere near there. I think that in the last ten years, I missed one year due to weather. There is still time to see the fair - it is well worth the trip!