WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Big E’s centennial year wraps up Sunday night, but the page in the proverbial history book won’t turn to year 101 until the last fair-goer has been fed.
It’s what all of us want: a way to live better. At the Big E, there’s an entire building devoted to it.
Gimmicks, gadgets, gizmos, tech, toys and trinkets: it’s all under one roof. Welcome to the Better Living Center. Built in 1924, it was originally called the Industrial Arts Building. At 123,000 square feet, it’s the exposition’s largest building.
From the useful to the edible to the just for fun. Fun for visitors and vendors.
Outside of Big E time, the Better Living Center is home to railroad, rock and mineral, sportsmen’s, and camping and RV shows, just to name a few.
Greg Chiecko, the Director of Sales for the Eastern States Exposition, told 22News: “The name was derived in 1961 out of the theme that this is the place you come to see new items. To make your life easier. To make the housewives’ chores easier. The Better Living Center became the name because it made your life easier. It was a better place to be.
The Better Living Center is a building where you can come and relax, away from the hustle and bustle of the fair. Whether you lay on a bed, a massage chair, or put your body a tube and get an Aqua Massage, it’s a great place to explore how to improve your well-being.
Alan Landry, a Springfield resident, told 22News: “This is an escape. This gives us a chance to go out, and instead of car hopping from one place to another we can actually have everything in one place.”
Greg Chiecko said: “Back in the day, when the washing machine was a new item, this is where it was showcased, at the Big E. You didn’t have television commercials or internet to get the word out. The only way you could do it was to come to the fair and see it.”
Before the iconic Ferris wheel makes its final revolution, 22News sat down with Eastern States Exposition CEO Gene Cassidy about what you have to look forward to for the next 12 months. “This is Big E 100, but next year it’s the next step up. Big E 101. Everyone has got to sign up for class. We started planning this past summer for next year’s fair. We’ve got dozens of contracts out with some of the biggest names in contemporary entertainment,” said Cassidy.”
The 17-day fair is a fundraiser for the Eastern State’s Exposition to fulfill its year-round agricultural mission as a non-profit.