The actual cover of my favorite book when I was a kid.
I went to the Big E (it's like a giant state fair/carnival for all the New England states) with my Mr. and my in-laws last weekend, closing weekend. (Note to self: never. again. on a Saturday.)
My first order of business: beignets. Inexplicable, I know. But listen, that's the closest I'm going to get to New Orleans again for a while, so I'll take it, gluten and all. Also, a warning, for my fellow gluten-and/or-dairy-free peeps: the Big E is food torture. No fried pickles, apple fritters, or dairy-product-slathered baked potatoes for us. Proceed with caution.
We ignored the Monsanto Propaganda Mobile, and had a wonderful time in all the farm animal and craft exhibits. My 2-year-old niece boogied down to the singing animatronic vegetables display (there's also a singing animatronic dairy products display that we found later).
My second order of business: a Maine lobster roll, and maple products from the States Buildings. I nabbed a pint of maple syrup from East Hartland, CT, and some maple sugar and the best brown mustard from Maine as well. (I was raised on Kosciusko brown mustard, but this stuff is tough competition.) I was very tempted to buy a Connecticut-grown tobacco cigar, just to watch them roll it, but Mr. Allie wouldn't let me. (For the record: I am very anti-smoking, and I am particularly nauseated by cigar smoke. But it's a historic craft!) I also had my first hot cider of the season (REAL cider, not warmed up apple juice– take note, FiveBucks) from a food vendor in the very disappointing Craft Commons.
My priority, since I can't enjoy the food as much anymore :( , is the fiber and textiles vendors. Llamas, alpacas, and sheeps abounded, and there were many spinners, weavers, knitters, crocheters, quilters, other needle crafters posted throughout and displaying their prize winning projects.
I came home with literally life-changing suede slippers lined in sheep's fleece from Golden Fleece Fashions from Canterbury, CT, and a hip-hop-worthy bright red wool ball cap with ear flaps, from Johnson Woolen Mills of Vermont. (I was dying for one of their bomber hats, but it was a little out of my student budget.)
Photo via the Golden Fleece website.
A page from another favorite, Henner's Lydia.*
(Here's a nice overview of the author, Marguerite de Angeli– a little nonsecular for my taste, but better than Amazombie.)
I also found out about a whole bunch of upcoming fiber arts festivals in the region, so if you're a crafter, or you admire the craft, or you just like weird, cute, fleecey animals, take note!
Little York Fall Fiber Arts Festval, Preble, NY
Blue Slope Country Museum Fall Festival, Franklin, CT
NYS Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY
Fiber Festival of New England, West Springfield (Big E grounds), Mass.
Hartford Artisans Weaving Center Open House and Sale, Hartford, CT
*(About the photos here: you can see how agrarian life and hand crafts, especially textiles, have been imprinted on me since I was a toddler. I mean, the bonnets, capes and aprons! The farmer boots! I lived my own Tasha Tudor-fantasy for years in rural-suburban Connecticut…)