Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Big E Facts

I promised you a head count for the day we were at the Big E. Well, it was the highest day so far this year--150,889! And out of over 150,000 people we did see three people we know.

As I was reading the Big E's website, I learned some very interesting facts about how much money they bring into the area and how wonderful they are for W. Springfield--one of the many facts is they provide 3500 temporary jobs. I never imagined that many people worked there. I have copied some of the other interesting facts about the Big E and it's impact below.

$224,970,000 TO LOCAL ECONOMY

The Big E, one of the top 10 fairs in North America, not only provides a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience for the more than 1 million people who attend, it also promotes the agriculture and culture of New England and pumps almost a quarter of a billion dollars into the economy of the region.

In a study, conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc., (REMI) of Amherst, Mass., the overall economic output as a result of tourism from outside Hampden County to The Big E is $224,970,000 with a Gross Regional Product (analogous to the national Gross Domestic Product) of over $150 million annually.

Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President, Wayne McCary said, "The annual Big E is a powerful energizer in the region's economy and while the Fair itself is a 17-day event, it has a profound year-round impact on employment, disposable income and tax revenues."

The study focuses on The Big E only and does not include shows held on the Eastern States Exposition grounds year-round.

Among the other findings in the report, the Fair:

■ Accounted for 2,800 full-time equivalent jobs outside the Eastern States Exposition. It generates 3,500 temporary jobs at the 17-day Fair.
■ Generated $85.1 million in disposable personal income in Hampden County, its home county.
■ Represents 16.11% of all Hampden County arts, entertainment and recreation industry spending. The Fair also generates 6.4% of the total sales in the accommodations and food services industry.
■ Adds $7.53 million to Massachusetts sales tax revenues as well as more than $468,000 in local hotel taxes.
■ In 2007, paid $1.28 million to the town of West Springfield, including $335,338 in real estate taxes and $171,331, or 1 percent of the Eastern States Exposition's 2006 gross revenues to The Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund, established in 1994 to benefit the town's education, youth and elderly programs as well as community projects. To date, contributions to the fund total $1,971,723.

So, now matter how you look at it, it's a good thing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Big E--The End

The lower picture is the best kept secret and the best buy of the fair. These neat little vibrator machines have always been only 25 cents for a couple of minutes. They vibrate below your feet and sends the tingling sensation up your legs. It is the quickest, most rejuvenating thing for only 25 cents.

We stayed eight hours (we took a leisurely pace and did spend almost 45 minutes with a man selling hearing aides). We still did not see all that we could have. There have been years in the past that we went more than one day--they used to have two day passes. But we did all we could do and we had a nice time on an absolutely beautiful day. I even bought a couple of Christmas presents and some piano Cd's for me for only $1. each and they are great.

One last remark. For all of your worrying about the economy and the financial institutions and their troubles, I want to let you know that people are doing their best to help them. The top picture is a line of people (behind the couple I accidentally caught on film). They are in line for the ATM!

Our minds were boggling when we thought of all the people there times by $10-$12 and all the cars in the lot at $15 (weekend price) to park. Wow, people are still spending.

I said one last remark, I lied. One more case you did the math. We started going in 1975 and we did miss one year. We don't have a perfect record--but close. It's a tradition for us and we hope we can do it for many more years.

Part 3--The Big E

These are a couple hundred of the million, trillion people who were there today. Actually, they keep a count of the number of attendees on their website and I will let you know what that was on a future blog. Surprisingly there was not a lot of pushing and shoving and there were times when you had an area all to yourself.

One of the pictures here is of a man mixing fudge on a big slab (this is not our fudge people, but was interesting to watch). Food is another big attraction here. There is every kind of fair food imaginable from corn dogs, cotton candy, baked potatoes, tempura, millennium chips, french fries, cheese steaks, mini donuts, onion rings, ice cream, slushies, sit down meals and on and on. I won't tell you everything we ate, but our tummies were smiling. :)

I'll continue this onto one more post. As I've said before, if you click on an individual picture, you can get a better close up.

Part 2--The Big E

These are the State's Buildings--one for each New England State. We always make our way through each one of these. We used to get a new free highway map for each state, but with map quest and a GPS (though we haven't read the instructions yet), we really don't need too many maps, so we only got a couple. We love to see the products featured in each state from Vermont cheese to Maine potatoes, CT's Lego's (this year they had a Lego Indiana Jones), etc.

One must for us is Mt. Moosilauke fudge in the New Hampshire building. These people appear to only sell the fudge at the Big E and don't care about getting any bigger. We think their fudge is fantastic and yet happily for us, they price themselves cheaper than any others. Every year we treat ourselves. This year I got chocolate peanut caramel (Yummm!!) and George got vanilla. We have never been disappointed in them--except we keep asking them to get a website or catalog so that we can order their fudge other times of the year. Oh, well. It's an extremely special treat for us once a year.

We usually get a Maine baked potato with the works. They actually give you almost a potato and a half with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon bits for $5. This is such a popular item that if you will click on the top right picture, you will see the canopies---in there is a line that goes up and down in four rows and as you can see the line is continued outside. This is all for just the potatoes. This is the longest line we ever saw-we always started under the canopy in the past, so this year we passed on it.

We even had to pass on a couple of state buildings but a few hours later when the parade started, we were able to go back because they weren't as crowded.

Next post will continue more about our annual pilgrimage.

Our 33rd trip to the the Big E

A little over a month before we were to be married, we made our first trip together to the Big E. I had only been once or twice before and that was George's first time. We enjoyed all the exhibits, entertainment and new products on display that we had not seen elsewhere. The Big E is the biggest fair in New England. The official name is the Eastern States Exposition. It used to run about ten days but in the last few years they have extended it to seventeen days and I think that controls the crowds.

We usually take a day off from work to go during the week, but this year due to schedules we went on Saturday. I think it is cruel to raise the price on the weekends for admission and for parking however, after seeing the million trillion people there on this Saturday, perhaps that's a good idea. Stay tuned for pictures of a couple hundred of those people.

First is George's favorite building--The Better Living Center which shows you the latest gadgets that will make your life so much better. There are things that slice, they dice, they clean faster and better than anything, they hold things, they mold things, they will amaze you with demonstrations before your very eyes.

The Salad Master booth was where we made our first major purchase from the Big E in 1975. We bought our first set of pots and pans. Well, actually our only set of pots and pans. These are the most amazing, sturdy stainless steel pans. They will out live us for sure. They were quite pricey then and even more so now, but we have never regretted the purchase. If he had bought cheaper sets and had to replace them over the years, we would have paid the same amount of money.

That was our first big purchase and over the years we have bought other big things, little things and small things. This year after the amazing demonstration we bought "the last glue you will ever use". We even heard some unsolicited testimonials from the crowd (always an encouraging thing). You only need a couple of drops and we bought two thousand drops worth.

We also bought some microfiber cloths that you only need water to clean windows, glass, computer and TV screens, tile, shower stall, etc, etc. We only saw the demonstration on George's glasses, so we'll have to put it to the real test. But it would be nice not to need to buy cleaning products.

So, the new products are a big draw for us. Next posting...another must see.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm not a dizzy blond!

I'm not a dizzy blond...just dizzy. I know everyone has times when they feel a little dizzy or off center. On Sunday I had that feeling from the moment I woke up. It would go away if I was sitting. I didn't think too much about it. Well, when I went to bed and laid down, I felt like my head was spinning. Then I got anxious.

After a not so good night of sleep, I woke up and was still dizzy. So, after spending several hours at the hospital and EKG, Cat Scan and blood work, they decided I had vertigo. Then I started to hear the horror stories about "my brother had it for 7 months" or "my relative had it for two years, drove him crazy"--this is from the doctor and nurse at the hospital.

They gave me a pill and a while later asked how I felt. I said I still felt dizzy, to which he replied, "oh, it's not going to make it go away--just make it a little milder." Great. So, about when I'm ready to leave all of the sudden I get nauseous and I worry that there's something else wrong, but the doctor assures me that that is part of it and he gives me another pill for that.

Well, I have never been big on medication. I think perhaps it works too well on me. I was so knocked out and out of it for the rest of the day. The next day I felt a little dizzy too, but by Wednesday I felt great (not taking the pills). Then Thursday, not as good, but today good. Well, talking to other people that's just the way it is. I do feel much better and I've read that it could be a one time thing or it can stay for a long time or re-occur. So, I'll just go with the flow. It feels better having been diagnosed--just pray they were right.

So, it's been an odd week. When I went to the local walk-in clinic, I knew they opened at 7am, but did not realize that that was just for lab work, so they took me by quiet ambulance to the hospital.--my first (hopefully last) ambulance ride. It was pretty bumpy.

The EMT was very nice and what a coincidence happened then. I told her my name was Deborah and she said that was her middle name, but when she got married she dropped it because they only used it when they yelled at her. Then I heard her say her first name was Jayne. She was Jayne Deborah. My name was Deborah Jane and I dropped my middle name when I got married too! How's that for a great coincidence!

The other eventful thing for this week is that I have to say that I finally saw a bear on my way home from work at lunchtime. The sad thing is that he was dead. He was on the side of the road, mostly covered with a blanket and a police was there with him. I feel badly for squirrels and any hit critters, so I was sad for this bear too.

So, a week of dizziness, ambulance ride, bear sighting, no cavities at the dentist and a coincidence--the ups and downs of life. Maybe that's why I was dizzy, though this was a relatively calm week. Life is often like a merry-go-round--which is better than a roller coaster in my book! I'll take my ups and downs slowly and in even doses.