This past Sunday, we made our annual trek to the Big E in Springfield. An Ohio native, I was raised on county and state fairs, but nothing compares to the Big E. Topsfield doesn’t even come close to what the Big E offers.
This year, Richard’s parents, visiting us from West Yorkshire, England, got to share in our Big E Love, including:
• Corn dogs. Based on name alone, not an attractive concept. So my in-laws, never having heard of a corn dog, had very little interest in trying one. But with some soothing words of encouragement from their son, they took a bite and then, eyebrows raised and smiles on their faces, they devoured their dogs. And my chest swelled with pride in crap American-made foods.
• The dilemma of how much wonderfully bad-for-me food my stomach will hold after eating a foot-long corn dog. You can’t go 2 feet at the Big E without running across some type of heart-attack inducing food. It’s heaven. But I have to decide: curly fries? Ice cream? Pierogi? Apple crisp? Blueberry crisp? Even the fried dough and cotton candy are temporarily tempting. I went for the fries and the apple crisp, and I got the pierogi “to go”— good Slovak girl that I am, I’ll fry ’em up in butter and onions this week.
• The slide: those crappy pieces of burlap sack, the long climb up three stories of half steps, the way the worker at the top sets the sack in place for you, the tickle in my stomach as I hit each new decline. But this year, with a mix of laughter and horror, I watched as my mother-in-law flew down in a flat position, seemingly banging her head on each new hill. She swore she was fine, proudly bore her burlap-scratch scars and a few hours later, expressed interest in having another go. [she didn’t, but father and son did]
• The discovery of what near-life-size image is carved in butter and placed on refrigerated display. Frankly, this was a bit disappointing this year (a milk truck). Usually there’s a detailed cow or two. But at least they stuck with the dairy theme.
• All those adorably fuzzy little chicks, having just hatched in the hatchery, learning to use their webbed feet—and all the kids (and adults) mesmerized by the scene. Nearby, a half-dozen or so piglets frantically nursed from their gigantic mother.
• Playing skee-ball! Ok, so you lose $2 in 2 seconds, but it’s a little bit of arm exercise, right?
• The amazing number of home improvement products. Where else would we learn about the Super Chamois, or discover three kinds of slicers—not including the salsa maker—to chop and dice veg? We tested the foot and back massage machines, watched the enormous showerhead demonstration, and quickly walked past the pro-life and Bible booths, fronted by people who never left the 1950s.
• Fudge! Actually, this is Richard’s area of expertise; I’m not really a fan, but I’m the evil influencer and encourage him to buy it. In fact, on our honeymoon, at a roadstop to fill up with gas, the attendant was selling fudge and said she would get a prize for selling the most, so I pushed Richard to buy like 5 pounds of the stuff — all of which he eventually ate. Back to the E, the best variety this year was found at a stand in the Massachusetts building. Pumpkin pie flavor! Blueberry! Heath Bar Crunch! Oy. A bit rich for me, but very nice indeed.
With supreme satisfaction, we left the Big E, ready to hibernate until next year.