6 New England States at the Big E’s Avenue of States

New England’s Finest Products, Traditions and Fare on the Big E’s Avenue of States

How can you visit all six New England states in less than one hour? Visit The Big E, the only fair in the country with multiple states participating! Take a stroll along the Avenue of States and see impressive replicas of each New England state’s original statehouse sitting on land actually owned by that state. Take a step inside and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and tastes and of quintessential New England.

The Avenue of States provides fairgoers the opportunity to tour New England all without leaving The Big E. A visit to the Fair just isn’t complete without taking a stroll through the unique offerings and traditions of each New England State. From native foods to products and crafts, each state provides a plethora of delights for residents of New England and those visiting from afar.

Connecticut Building – With pristine beaches, rolling hills, picturesque lodgings, fascinating history and incredible casino entertainment, visitors to Connecticut are sure to find something to satisfy their interests. Fairgoers who tour the building will enjoy Connecticut-made products and the aromas of delicious fare including Connecticut made pizza and candy products. Your trip will not be complete without a stop at LEGO, a visit with dinosaurs and a chat with a Connecticut winemaker as well as many of the agricultural exhibitors that will be representing the Nutmeg state. Visit on Connecticut Day, Sept. 19, and witness the best our neighbor to the south has to offer.

Maine Building – Known for mouth-watering “lobstahs,” exquisite wildlife, and serene coastline and landscape, the Pine Tree State exhibits its specialties at The Big E. Fairgoers can indulge in a famous Maine Baked Potato, delectable lobster roll or wild blueberry product! This year’s exhibits in the Maine Building include the Maine Lighthouse Collection Series, ever-popular maple products and nature-inspired jewelry and ornaments. Visit on Maine Day, Sept. 29 for a “down east” experience.

Massachusetts Building – Bay State locals are not surprised that Massachusetts brings agriculture, picture-perfect scenery and rich history to The Big E. The Massachusetts Building at The Big E, a replica of the original Statehouse, boasts the best of the state from Provincetown to Pittsfield. Browse through the many choices of Massachusetts fare including Finnish pancakes, maple products, and fudge. Purchase a Bay State t-shirt or a beautiful braided rug and browse other exhibitors to purchase products made right here in the Bay State. Be sure to check out the Tornado Fire Starters, a company recycling wood from trees destroyed by last year’s tornado. On Massachusetts Day, Sept. 20, demonstrations showcasing Massachusetts’ talents will take place both inside and outside the building.

New Hampshire Building – Enjoy homemade fudge, blueberry pie and candies, and treat yourself to handmade soaps and lotions without leaving The Big E. The Granite State has so much to offer visitors from hand thrown pottery to beaded jewelry and hand-woven rugs. Be sure to stop in and check it out! On New Hampshire Day, Sept. 21, the New Hampshire Building will host a slew of performers and entertainers all possessing that good ole’ New Hampshire spirit!

Rhode Island Building – Didn’t make it to the Rhode Island shore this summer? Not to worry, the shore is coming to you at The Big E. The Rhode Island Building invites you to spend time taking in some of the most popular sites Rhode Island has to offer. While you’re there, be sure to enjoy The Ocean State’s famous clam cakes, decadent seafood, and refreshing Del’s Lemonade. Don’t forget the coffee milk! The building is full of exhibits and businesses including embroidered clothing with New England themes, and one-of-a-kind Rhode Island creations. Stop by on Rhode Island Day, Sept. 18, for special performances.

Vermont Building – The Green Mountain State is known for its friendly people, historic villages, fabulous fare, working farms, coffee, and, oh did we mention maple syrup? Be sure to visit the Vermont Building on the Avenue of States and sample fresh, cold milk and cheddar cheese. Plan a ski vacation for the whole family while sipping on warm cider! Featuring everything from handmade crafts to hard-to-find antiques, the Vermont Building is sure to shine. Vermont Day is Sept. 22, so be sure to stop by for special performances and entertainment.

The Big E takes place Sept. 14 – 30, 2012 in West Springfield, Mass. For more information, be sure to visit TheBigE.com or call the info line at 413-205-5115.

– Submitted by Catherine Pappas

The Power of One vs. Biomass-Burning Incinerator

Biomass-Burning Incinerator At Our Doorstep

Daisy, activist-in-training! (Photo credit: Dana Pilson)

Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been absent from the blog rolls these days.  Here’s why: early this summer, we got word that a company from Maine was proposing to build a biomass-burning incinerator in our town.  Considering we live about 700 yards from the site, we thought we should learn more about biomass, what it is, and what this facility might mean for us.

Unfortunately, it’s been bad news all around.

Biomass (also known as trees, harvested from local forests) is burned in large incinerators for energy.  Emissions from the 200 foot tall smokestack would include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The list of other harmful emissions is too long to present here. Health organizations have stated that there is no safe level for particulate matter — it is so small that it travels widely and lodges itself in your lungs, exacerbating existing respiratory problems and causing other health problems.  The seventy or eighty diesel trucks a day bringing fuel to the incinerator would add even more harmful emissions — all of this pollution would stagnate in our deep and narrow valley, home to hundreds of families, a handful of farms, and a wildly popular summer camp.

It only gets worse: the developers propose to use water from the Hoosic River, which is presently at an all-time low level from lack of rain all month. They need  400 gallons a minute, a staggering 576,000 gallons per day.  Locals know that the river is laden with PCB’s from years of dumping by industrial sites upstream. The company says there are no PCB’s in the water, that they are in the silt and soil.  But anytime there is a heavy rain the silt is stirred up, possibly dislodging PCB’s that could then go into the cooling towers and be emitted into the air.  If river water isn’t sufficient, the developers plan to use water from an existing well that extracts water from an aquifer.  The effects on local property owners’ wells is not clear.  If wells dry up, the state will “mitigate” the situation, possibly bringing in bottled water.

Biomass relies on logging, and the developers plan to obtain wood from within a fifty mile radius of the plant,  330,000 tons of it each year.  The very idea of cutting our trees for electricity generation is so depressing to me, it is difficult to think about this aspect of the project.  That we as a  society have become so cavalier about our natural resources, that we would be so short-sighted to cut and burn the very trees that sequester carbon dioxide, provide homes for woodland creatures, green our hillsides in the summer, and explode with color each autumn, that we as a society could stoop so low to resort to this practice saddens me so much I have literally shed tears thinking about it.

My husband and I talk about it all the time.  We plan to move from our lovely house, a house that we have worked so hard to renovate, insulate, landscape, and make into a home we can be proud of.  Years of Christmas trees dot our front yard, we have labored over rosa rugosa plants along our fence row, nurtured recalcitrant lilacs into blooming, fostered a peach tree that now blesses us with abundant fruit each summer, and have tended a lawn with nothing other than love and a push-mower so that now it glows green in the sunshine.  We purchased the property next to us so Daisy could have thick woods to roam in, a stream to explore, and hills to roll down.  It is a virtually fairy-land within those woods: we have spent many hours building fairy houses and gnome homes, sketching the landscape, and examining rocks, fallen trees, animal tracks and wildflowers.  To give this all up and move because someone else has decided to put in a wood-burning incinerator so close to our sheltered eden has fired up the activist in me.

I now spend my days researching and photocopying material, administering a website with information for our community, calling legislators, planners and the Vermont Public Service Board.  I’m part of a group that is circulating a petition, distributing information, making connections with environmentalists and scientists and others fighting the same fight in their towns.  We’re calling our selectmen, bringing questions to the developers and preparing for the hearings in October.

Like a mama bear, I will do all I can to protect my cub.  She is the only one I have and I will fight to keep her air clean and to shelter her from the mad doings of a world gone energy-crazy for as long as I possibly can.  She recently wrote this note to me: “Der mama, I hope the biyomas plant dus not come in. Wut can I duw to help. Lov Daisy.”  It broke my heart, but I must carry on.

So, anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  That’s where I’ll be.  I’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out.



Dana “Dee” Pilson

Dee lives with her professor husband and young daughter in rural Pownal, Vermont, just over the state line from Williamstown, Massachusetts. She is an art historian and has worked in museums in New York City, Boston, and Williamstown. She has been an avid writer since the tender age of eight, filling journals with personal essays and short stories, as well as mounds of poetry, both serious and whimsical. New Yorker by birth, New Hampshire-ite by schooling, and now Vermonter by choice, Dee writes about art and architecture, the environment, books, food, exercise, travel, and green living. Her new blog, “The Power of One,” focuses on issues related to parenting an only child in today’s child-centric world. dpilson@aol.com

Strolling of the Heifers Supports Local Family Farms

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The 9th annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend

As a way of connecting people with the food they eat, Strolling of the Heifers happens this weekend in VT, supporting local family farms in the region - a fun event for the whole family! (Photo credit: Storm)

Just over the board in Brattleboro, Vermont, the first weekend of June is always Strolling of the Heifers weekend — three days of events packed with fun for the whole family, but with a serious purpose: connecting people with the food they eat, so that family farms in the region can survive.

The weekend’s theme will be “Milk ‘n Jazz: A Moo-sical Extravaganza,” so expect to hear jazz (and lots of other music) throughout the weekend.

The 9th annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, starting Friday, June 4th and continuing through Sunday, June 6th, is highlighted, of course, by the world-famous Strolling of the Heifers Parade, Saturday June 5th at 10 a.m. sharp on Brattleboro’s historic Main Street.

When it’s over, the crowd follows the parade to the Green Expo at the Brattleboro Common and the Dairy Festival on the Brattleboro Retreat grounds to enjoy more music, visit vendors and educational booths, hear speakers on farming, gardening and sustainable living, and sample a wide variety of local foods.

The weekend’s kickoff is roundtable entitled “Slow Money — Investing in Local Food Systems” on Friday, June 4th from 1 to 3 p.m. (with optional lunch noon to 1 p.m.) at World Learning, Kipling Road, Brattleboro, led by Woody Tasch and other leaders of the national Slow Money movement.

Friday evening of Strolling Weekend features Brattleboro’s regular first-Friday Gallery Walk, with art galleries open throughout downtown and elsewhere in town. A large block of Main Street will be closed to allow entertainment of all sorts, including a marching performance by the town’s own New Orleans Brass Band Project.

On Sunday, the weekend is rounded out with a Royal Farmer’s Breakfast Feast featuring local and organic foods at the Chelsea Royal Diner, and a self-guided Farm, Food and Fiber Tour.

Visit http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com for complete information and these and many other events.

Photo credit: (ccl) Storm

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