As you know, i am an avid attendee of state, local and county fairs, but in my eyes nothing compares to The Empire State's "crown jewel" which is based in Syracuse. I've been going to The New York State Fair for over three decades and trust me, it is worth the trip out west to see for yourself how this massive display of exhibits, food courts and LIVE shows is sure to please all ages.

Many in our area opt to attend The Big E (Eastern States Exposition) just east of us in West Springfield, Massachusetts. I am going to give you some comparisons on how these yearly gatherings differ in more ways than one.

For starters, you have plenty of room to circulate in New York State's fairgrounds and on the heals of COVID-19, crowds were not as robust as in the past, but you felt cramped and congested at the Big E (this has been a pet peeve for me ever since I first set foot there years ago. If I want to go to Grand Central Station, I'll head south to my old haunts) and with social distancing procedures in effect, I masked up on both visits, indoors and outdoors  where as others did not practice this precautionary measure in West Springfield.

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PRICE: It only cost me $3 for a daily visit in Syracuse where as The Big E charged a whopping $15 for one day just to get in to the grounds. I could have gone to The New York State Fair 3 more times and had some left over money to spend out west. Enough said. Plus, parking ranged anywhere from $10 to $20 at The Big E. If only they had shuttle bus service which served it's purpose in Central New York, that would also alleviate traffic in West Springfield, which is bumper to bumper as there is only ONE way to get in and out of this venue.

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FOOD: NO comparison: Out west you can get a fresh glass of chocolate milk for ONLY 25 cents, 2 ice cream cones for $5, the ever popular pizza fritte for about $10 and specials on burgers, hot dogs et al. And the Greek food was superb (Thank you Perry and Chrysoula).East of us, I had the worst tasting nachos (no cheese sauce and the worst salsa that was watery and not thick in nature). Fortunately, I was able to get a nice dinner served up by the West Springfield Lions Club (kudos to this LOCAL organization for coming through as my hard earned dollars went to assist them in high fashion) and I also bought snacks from the LOCAL New England Grange.

I'll give an edge to the Big E: their late afternoon parade is fun to watch, even though this year's edition was abridged and scaled back in more ways than one. Get those Mardi Gras beads while you can!

Bottom line: Even though I travel more to get out west to Syracuse, the enjoyment of reconnecting with friends in that vicinity is priceless to me along with a scenic ride west via route 20 as opposed to going east on the "bland" Mass Pike. Plus, I get more bang for my buck in the town of Geddes, New York. Till next year, when I return to "The Grand Daddy" of them all.

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