Opening day at the Big E in Springfield on Sept. 16 heralded a record-breaking number of 86,204 souls that walked through the gates. The following day, 116,602 attended. People walking, riding in wheelchairs and pushing baby carriages wanted to experience the Lourdes of agricultural entertainment, music, parades, and other fun at the Big E’s 100th year celebration.
Harrison Roberts, age nine, of Chesterfield, MA, was at the Big E, showing his 2,200 pound Hereford bull named Danger who was taller than Roberts. Dressed in the requisite white show clothes, his hands were full leading his bull to the show ring for the Senior Yearling Bull class, which he won. His mother, Amy Roberts, said he had been working with the bulls for four years, that it was something he decided he wanted to do. He is a member of the Hampshire County Cattle Club and the New England Hereford Association.
Roberts’ aspiring superior showmanship resulted in Roberts receiving the Missy White Award, given in honor of Melissa (Missy) White who passed away from cystic fibrosis.
While awarding Roberts, Director of Agriculture Donna Wollam said of White, who showed Herefords and angus at the fair and was very active in the Youth Hereford Association, “She taught me the show is a wonderful place to have a great time, and taught me there was life outside the show ring.”
Robert’s stock also placed 2nd for Six Best Head, 2nd for Cow Calf B: Dams three Years and Older, 2nd for Senior Heifer Calf, 3rd for Winter Heifer Calf, 3rd for Spring Yearling Heifer, and 4th for Junior Bull Calf.
The Grand Champion Hereford bull was a January calf, named Durango Sergeant, owned by David and Jill Ott from Rocks Spring Farm in Bangor, PA. There were tears in her eyes as she was handed the award. When asked if the award was unexpected, she answered yes, and wiped still a few more happy tears away. “Usually a young bull doesn’t get champion bull,” she said. She and her husband have two children and have raised beef cows for nine years on their farm.
“I liked him a lot. He was in the first and second class of the day showing with his mother. Made a fabulous first impression. Didn’t disappoint the rest of the day,” said Judge Randy Daniel of Colbert, GA.
Reserve Grand Champion was won by Hillrock, owned by Herb Holden of Double H Acres of Broad Brook, CT, and handled by Cliff Orley of Lebanon, PA.
The Pepin Family, Tristan, Dillon and Kurtis, from Goshen, CT won Best of Six Head, Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor, and other awards.
Elsewhere, agriculture showed a different side as pigs raced around a ring during a Swifty Swine Racing Pigs performance to packed bleachers and standing room only several times daily.
They were situated by the traditional butter sculpture. This year it was a milk wagon, themed “Fun with Dairy Nutrition, sculpted by Jim Victor of Conshohocken PA, using over 600 pounds of butter, donated by Agrimark/Cabot Creamery. Victor has made butter sculptures for the Big E for 20 years, assisted by his wife, Marie Pelton, who sculpted last year’s Big E butter sculpture. He wore a hooded sweatshirt and fingerless gloves to work his pallet of butter. It looked cold inside the tiny refrigerated building, but he said he wasn’t cold. “It’s between 50 to 60 degrees, got to have the butter workable.” He has custom designed butter sculptures including manatees and mermaids for 30 years, and sculpts also in chocolate and cheese.
There were competitions and winners daily from a multitude of agricultural products and venues. ADK Hard Cider from Plattsburgh, NY won Best New York Cider with a 2015 vintage of Double Tap Maple. Citizen Cider from Burlington, VT won Best Vermont Cider with a 2016 vintage of Homage to Rose. Best Massachusetts Cider was won by Russell Orchards Farm and Winery of Ipswich, MA with their Middle Ridge Hard Cider, similar to an English hard cider. Bishop’s Orchards of Guilford, CT won Best Connecticut Cider with their vintage Celebration. Best Maine Cider was won by Ricker Hill Farms Inc. of Turner, ME with their vintage Mainiac Mac. Their orchard has been growing apples for nine generations since 1803. Winners everywhere.