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BIG E RECORDS SECOND HIGHEST ATTENDANCE
By Dan McGinnis
The Eastern States Exposition, held September 14-30 had 1,227,889 people attend during the 17 day run, the second highest total ever. The record was set in 1998 with1,254,523. Three daily attendance records were set: The first Wednesday, 73,258; second Monday, 66,790; and second Tuesday, 56,974. The Big E enjoyed near perfect weather all 17 days.
Advance discount tickets and 17-Day Value Passes were available online at thebige.com and the Big E Box Office, through Sept. 8. Tickets were also sold at Big Y World Class Markets Aug. 23-Sept. 12. Advance tickets were $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-12, and advance 17-day passes were $34.95 for adults and $22.95 for children ages 6-12. Regular gate admission for adults was $12 weekdays and $15 weekends; Children ages 6-12 were $8 weekdays and $10 weekends. Children five and under were free. 17-Day Value Passes purchased after Sept. 8 were $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for children ages 6-12. Regular price self-printing gate admission tickets were also sold online at thebige.com. ??Other Big E admission discounts include "Five after Five" where admission was $5 after 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
A powerful entertainment line up of ticketed and free stars was offered on the ComCast Arena Stage where Concerts by Daughtry, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry and other country and pop stars were featured.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom Adventure Tour, a live shark show, two Commerford petting zoos, and the Coca-Cola sponsored Big E Super Circus also attracted large crowds for the free acts. The all-new Big E Super Circus, featured The Flying Pages flying trapeze act, Calusari Teeterboard Troupe, Johnny Peers Comedy Dogs, Alesya's Hula Hoops, Gagik Hand Balancing Act, Fusco Brothers Juggling and Ringmistress Heidi Herriott. On the Comcast Court of honor stage free daily shows were presented all 17 days.
North American Midway Entertainment had 48 rides at this year's fair. Having just been awarded the CNE contract they added to their success with a big 17 day midway gross up over last year. (Midway gross is not given out).
The show looked great with new vinyl tops on kid rides, vinyl flashing on major rides and many new attractions. The concession tents were impressive as well, with flags and bright canvas. The NAME food concession trailers were also beautifully presented.
Michael and Jennifer Raccio, of Waterbury, Conn., won the online Marriage on the Midway contest and said their vows in front of 100 guests on the midway Saturday, Sept. 15. Ten finalists were selected from all submitted essays and photos and online voting determined the lucky couple. The wedding included a cream puff wedding cake and reception on the Midway.
On the independent midway, concessions stretch from one end of the fair grounds to the other. They also reported business up over last year. Every type of food and snacks can be found here. Most have been here for years and have been in the same location every year. Many see the same customers return each year to sample their wares.
148 total vendors were present, from sit-down dinners at Storrowton Tavern and the Italian Pavilion to fun Fair favorites. Visitors enjoyed 3,500 bowls of cream of broccoli soup in a bread bowl, 50,000 lbs. of fried dough, 5.5 tons of grilled chicken and 1,600 "pulled" barbeque chicken sandwiches from the Agawam Lions Club, 2,500 gallons of soft serve, 4,000 gallons of Rondeau's Dairy Bar ice cream and 47,000 Big E Cream Puffs.
As with many other fairs lately, the The Big E went "Green" this year in an effort to conserve energy and keep the environment healthy. All plastic cold drink cups and paper napkins were biodegradable and recyclable. The cups were made in the U.S. of Nebraska corn. The napkins were made with a high proportion of recycled fiber and produced using carbon neutral fuels, such as wood residue and biofuels.
The Eastern States Exposition under the leadership of President & CEO Wayne Mc Cary has continued to make many improvements to the grounds and attractions to make this one of the finest fairs in the nation.
The next edition of New England's "Autumn Tradition" takes place September 12-28, 2008.