Events

The Big E 2022: Your guide to New England’s biggest fair

West Springfield's massive fairgrounds will welcome millions of visitors for another season starting Sept. 16.

People took flight on an amusement ride at the Big E.
People took flight on an amusement ride at the Big E. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

After taking the year off in 2020, The Eastern States Exposition (known by all as The Big E) returned to Springfield in 2021 with a bang, welcoming nearly 1.5 million visitors to its Hampden County grounds.

For its 2022 edition, the fair, which runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 3, will have even more live musical acts, all of its beloved competitions, the return of its circus spectacular, and plenty of the deliciously deep-fried treats visitors have come to expect.

“Fairs exemplify the great American way of life and we do it best at The Big E,” fair president Gene Cassidy told MassLive. “And today we need to be reminded of the American way of life at its best.”

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Here’s a taste of what to expect when visiting The Big E in 2022.

Getting there

Visitors to The Big E have plenty of flexibility when it comes to planning their day. Gates to the fairgrounds open at 8 a.m., with most shops and attractions opening at 10 a.m. and areas generally closing down for the night sometime between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The Big E is a short drive from several major highways: I-91 for guests hailing from points North and South, and I-90 for visitors traveling from the East and West. Parking access for cars, vans, and trucks is at Gate 9, and costs $10, while motorcycles cost $5. Be warned: Parking is cash only, and there are no ATMs near Gate 9.

Below you can see a map of the full fairgrounds.

The Big E Fairgrounds map

First Impressions

While The Big E is structured similarly to other state fairs across America, it’s more accurately a regional fair, due to representing all six New England states at its grounds. One of the fair’s main thoroughfares is the Avenue of States, where guests can learn more about New England’s history and visit representations of the six original New England statehouses.

Back in 1918, Eastern States Exposition founder Joshua L. Brooks convinced Massachusetts Gov. Samuel W. McCall to allot $50,000 to erect the Massachusetts Building, the first of the six states to have its own functional exhibit hall. Today, more than 30 vendors pack the building, offering local delicacies tied to the state like Boston baked beans and Boston Cream cupcakes.

It’s not just New England that gets a seat at the Big E, however. For years now, the fair has allotted space for Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, welcoming Irish vendors that highlight the bonds created between County Kerry and West Springfield. The Irish presence will be kicked up a notch during the first two days of The Big E for its Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Friday night has a performance from Dropkick Murphys, and the fair’s Irish pavilion will have Irish cocktails, green cream puffs, and other specialty merchandise.

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Activities tend to vary each day, but one attraction you can set your watch to is the daily Mardi Gras-style parade at 6 p.m., which treats visitors to “traditional floats, dazzling lights, rockin’ tunes and lots of beads.”

Two new can’t-miss attractions this year are a 150-foot “Sky High Super Wheel” ferris wheel located in the Midway that organizers say is the largest of its kind in North America, and “The Front Porch,” a relaxation center with warm lights, Adirondack chairs, and views of performances on the E Stage.

@bostondotcom Take a look inside New England’s biggest fair, The Big E — with a backstage look at @Yung Gravy :honey_pot:‘s performance. For more on the fair’s attractions and concert lineup, tap the link in bio. :carousel_horse: #TheBigE #NewEngland #EasternStatesExpo ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

Ticket info

Tickets for The Big E can be purchased at the fairground or in advance online. Many of the rides and games in the Midway operate on a ticket basis, but you can buy a One-Day Midway Pass for $35 ($30 in advance online) that grants you unlimited access to all but a few select premium attractions. You can also purchase a Express Pass that lets you skip the line for $15.

The Midway is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Full details on the Midway rides and how the individual ticket system works can be found in the graphic below.

Rides and ticketing at the Big E

Food and Drink

Beyond the many local vendors located in the Avenue of States, you’ll find countless options for food and drinks around The Big E.

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More than a dozen vendors are joining the fair for the first time this year, including Ferrindo Maple Farm, which sells maple cotton candy and maple cream; Bakery on Brewer, which has apple bacon and pumpkin fritters; and The Place 2 Be, an Instagrammable Springfield brunch spot that offers mini fruity pebble pancakes, mini Nutella pancakes, and even milkshakes topped with mini pancakes.

For libations, check out the Brewer’s Showcase, where local brewmasters will be on hand to wet your whistle Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The brewers will rotate over the course of the festival, but the initial lineup from September 16-18 features Easy Company Brewing, White Lion Brewing Co., and Two Weeks Notice Brewing.

Contests and Competitions

At its heart, The Big E is an agricultural fair, and more than 1,100 4H and FFA participants descend on West Springfield each year for livestock competitionsdaily horse shows, and petting zoos.

It’s not just animals competing for blue ribbon glory at The Big E, though. The food and beverage competitions let amateurs submit their best pies, candies, cookies, wines, cheeses, and more for judgement.

The creative arts competitions, meanwhile, test competitors’ acumen in knitting, basket weaving, and even solving jigsaw puzzles.

The Music

The Dropkick Murphys
The Dropkick Murphys will headline opening night of The Big E 2022. – Handout

For live entertainment, head to one of The Big E’s three primary musical stages, where more than 50 artists will play over the festival’s full run. The Big E Arena hosts the largest headline acts, with Boston-bred rockers The Dropkick Murphys set to play opening night. Over on the Court of Honor Stage, you’ll hear everyone from one-hit wonders (Modern English, Baha Men, KT Tunstall) to throwback performers (DJ Jazzy Jeff, Alien Ant Farm, The Yardbirds). Finally, The E Stage is reserved for up-and-coming talent, so stop by if you want to hear the next big thing before anyone else.

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Here’s the full Big E music lineup for 2022:

Sept. 16
Lindsey LaBelle: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Modern English: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Adelaide Punkin & Something Simple: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Dropkick Murphys: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
Yung Gravy: 8 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Dwayne Haggins: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage (Extra Charge)

Sept. 17
Chloe Belsito: 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Modern English: 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Emily Victoria: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Unforgettable Fire: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena
KT Tunstall: 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
One Time Weekend: 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Sept. 18
Kristen Merlin: 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Modern English: 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Branded: Country That Rocks: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Brantley Gilbert with special guest George Birge: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
Everclear: 8 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
DJ Creme: 8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Melaner: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Sept. 19
[email protected] Chorus: 2 to 2:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
The Penniless Wild: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
The Yardbirds: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

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Sept. 20
[email protected] Chorus: 2 to 2:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
We Don’t Know Yet: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
MALADO!: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
The Yardbirds: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

Sept. 21
Canned Heat: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
3 Exits to Hattiesburg: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Professors of Sweet, Sweet Music: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
The Main Squeeze: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

Sept. 22
Justus Michael: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Canned Heat: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
The Greys: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Johnnyswim: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Sept. 23
Vinny B: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Whalom Park: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Nelly: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
Tai Verdes: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Rumboat Chili: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Sept. 24
Miranda Rae: 12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. at the E Stage
CD Rose: 1:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Back Rhodes: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Sublime with Rome: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
DJ Jazzy Jeff: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Taija New: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

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Sept. 25
Sam Pursey Trio: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
The Red Hots: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Bring Me The Horizon: 6:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
Madeline Edwards: 8 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Platinum Moon: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Sept. 26
LFO and Ryan Cabrera: 2 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Lemon Street: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
The Cantalini 3: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Boogie Wonder Band: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

Sept. 27
LFO and Ryan Cabrera: 2 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Cessa and The Zach: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Alex Rohan: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
Boogie Wonder Band: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

Sept. 28
Jon Secada: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Wild Bill & The Flying Sparks: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the E Stage
RICE: An American Band: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the E Stage
All-4-One: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage

Sept. 29
Kyle Langlois: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Jon Secada: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Weege & The Wondertwins: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
ERNEST: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Austin James and The Nomads: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

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Sept. 30
Morgan Myles: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Baha Men: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Myles Jéh: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Chase Rice and Jimmie Allen: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
Alien Ant Farm: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Tales of Joy: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Oct. 1
Faith Rheault: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Baha Men: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Shake: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Happy Together Tour: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
American Authors: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Sun Parade: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

Oct. 2
Halley Neal: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Baha Men: 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
Sandy Bailey: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the E Stage
Lynyrd Skynyrd: 7:30 p.m. at the Big E Arena (Extra Charge)
John Waite: 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Court of Honor Stage
El Conjunto Barrio feat. Jesus Pagan: 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the E Stage

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