Smash Mouth draws Mount Holyoke students to the 101st Big E

Photos by Tammy Vesvarute ’21 


This week, many students from Mount Holyoke College visited New England’s great state fair, “The Big E.” Held every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts, the 17-day event features a wide range of attractions, including rides, concerts, a petting zoo, cooking shows, car shows, fair food vendors and much more. 

For many Mount Holyoke students, this was their first time visiting the fair. Kanyinsola Onitiri ’21 said that she enjoyed the shops with vinyl records, henna tattoos and bajas. 

“I walked around the fair for the most part, and also went on a ride. I enjoyed the food and the shops, but the weather wasn’t very pleasant,” said Onitiri.

Others also noted the less desireable parts of the fair. “It was crowded, the sun was scorching, and the ride on the ferris wheel was very slow,” said Supriya Lama ’21. “But, the avenue of states, which were life-size replicas of the six New England statehouses, and the food there made up for it.” 

Other students from Mount Holyoke have been going to the Big E for decades. Lisa Dell’Angelo ’81 has been going to the Big E since she was a child. “My grandmother lived in Springfield, and we would always make a trip up from New York to visit her, as well as go to the Big E.” Dell’Angelo continued to go while she was at Mount Holyoke, and she even introduced the fair to some of her friends. Now, her daughter is a Mount Holyoke student and they make sure to go to the fair together. 

The fair, which was first known as the Eastern States Exposition when it started in 1916, got its start promoting agriculture and teaching people the skills required in agricultural activities.  Dell’Angelo also said that the fair has become much more commercial today. 

“There weren’t rows and rows of fair food, gifts and crafts. We mostly went to the farm animal exhibits, and also watched some of the horse competitions,” she said. 

The fair’s rising commercialism has helped make it more popular. Dell’Angelo, who went to the Big E on Sunday, said that she enjoyed eating the traditional New England food items and looking at the farm animals. “Back then, only a small number of Mount Holyoke students were going to the Big E because most of them weren’t aware of it, but now that it’s so huge and popular, more students are visiting.”

An attraction unique to this year’sBig E was the concert by popular rock band Smash Mouth, which drew many Mount Holyoke students to the fair. For Emsie Cronin ’19, the concert was an unforgettable experience. “I got there late and had to run about two miles to get to the venue before it ended,” said Cronin, “but it was worth it.” 

Similarly, Kayla Dillon ’20 had a great time at the concert. “The best part of the concert for me was when they performed ‘All Star.’ It was the last song, and was pretty much the reason we decided to go,” said Dillon. “I hope that the Big E continues to host great groups like Smash Mouth in the future.”