This weekend presented me with a distinct taste of New England, as Ali, Keri, and I headed to Springfield, Massachusetts, for The Big E (Every state in the union must have a Springfield!). What’s The Big E, you might be asking? Well, it is a fair celebrating the offerings of all that is New England. Complete with carnival rides, 4-H livestock shows, and enough fried food to give you a grabber before you make it back to your car, it has all the captivation and kitsch you can handle. Moreover, it is an event for which the Terwedow sisters are passionate, perennial patrons.
As Ali likes to say, “It’s not just state fair. It’s a six-state fair!” This would lead many of you to believe that it is a huge event. Alas, remember how the size of the states we are talking about. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island could all probably fit in the state of Illinois. Thus, the size was not as overwhelming as I had imagined it would be. The whole thing could have been contained within the confines of McCormick Place. Yet, this event is mainly outside.
However, each state is proudly represented by a replica of their state house. They line a short street in the site’s compound. Tourist information abounds, as well as loads of local vendors hawking their goods. Most notable are: Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s, Connecticut’s Timex booth, Maine’s never-ending line for loaded baked potatoes, and maple flavored syrup and candy from nearly every state. Aside from being ridiculously crowded, even twenty minutes after the gates opened, the houses offered all kinds of interesting ways to separate you from your money.
Of course food is the real draw. Vastly outdoing most food fests I have attended, The Big E is the kind of junk-food binge that has you on a daylong bender before you know it; sending you home pumped up with enough grease and chemicals to induce a weeks worth of liver quiver. Nevertheless, we soldiered on and did our duty, partaking in éclairs the size of our heads, bags of fried clam cakes, and apple slices swimming in caramel. That was just some of our walking around food. We had to eat meals too! Although Keri and Ali have a particular desire for one of the grossest concoctions I have seen; it was a kind of runny faux blueberry-cheesecake in a nearly-flat graham-like cone covered in whip cream. It is essentially air and sugar, amazingly in a semi-liquid form. After one bite, I thought I was going to need a foot-long corndog just to recover.
The whole day was a happy reprieve from the Red Sox, who after clawing to within two-and-a-half games of the Yankees, got drubbed the day before by double digits. That game heralded a three game slide that was ended Tuesday. Thank God! Despite the fact that they are in easy position to win the wild-card, the danger of overtaking the division has all but been dashed. The Bronx Boys will make the trip to Boston this coming weekend, so things will definitely be colorful around here. By comparison, the Cubs and White Sox antipathy in Chicago is a grammar school grudge, Bears and Packers approaches high school hostility, but neither even comes close to the animosity that Red Sox Nation, as locals call themselves, feels for the “Evil Empire,” also a local reference. I think “Yankees Suck” t-shirts are issued to students in the public schools. However, that is just training. For the hardcore-select Yankee haters donning such slogans as “Posada is a Little Bitch” and “Jeter Sucks A-Rod” are readily available outside Fenway. It’s all a far cry from my more recent favorite White Sox bashing t-shirt of Frank Thomas, in a dress, lovingly entitled “The Big Skirt!”