The Big E …
By: Patrice Wood, Waterville Resort Class of 2017
Sure, I’d heard of it. The Big E…kind of like the Deerfield Fair. Right? Well yes, but 5 times larger!
My first experience at the NH building was to help with ‘load in,’ day one. Driving in from the seacoast, I arrived to find a well-oiled machine already hard at work. Boxes and boxes of New Hampshire pamphlets were being off loaded from cars and trucks with yet more to be delivered! Sorting them, putting them into display racks A and B – no space to be left empty. Put the extra’s into -the not more than two people at a time – storage area. We looked like a conga line as we brought the boxes to Naomi! The goal, as told to me by Kelly, was “to have it look as good on the last day of the fair as it does on the first”.
My assignment finished, I took a few minutes to drive around the fairgrounds. The Avenue of States, to the BIG barns, the Coliseum, the ongoing horse show with riders if full dress, the dog show – dogs everywhere being groomed, and the fair hasn’t even begun yet!
Opening day and I’m scheduled for the opening shift starting at 9:30AM. Anticipating a lot of traffic in Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Worcester, I’m on the road at 5:45 AM. Having made it thru Haverhill and Lawrence without delays, I’m feeling good. ¾ of the way thru Lowell – the traffic isn’t too heavy- but it was then I realized the packet with my parking pass and ticket are NOT in the back seat but instead in the bag that I removed from the back seat just the evening before (insert a few choice words here…). Too far from home to turn around to retrieve them and then make it to the fairgrounds on time, I continued on – muttering to myself all the way.
Candlewood Suites – I arrived, hopeful to catch the shuttle to the fairgrounds – it left 10 minutes ago. Okay, I’ll drive there, pay to park and pay the entrance fee. After a brief conversation with Emily about my forgotten packet and asking about the best place to park, she informed me that Kelly would be coming to my rescue. THANK YOU!
Finally, at the fair; green NH apron on, name tag hanging from around my neck, I’m ready! What they said was true! The announcement was made, the doors opened, and hundreds of people walked in (and very orderly, too – always to the right, circling around the exhibit and exiting at the door to cross the line to Connecticut)! Welcome to NH! What can I help you find? Yes, of course I can tell you about camping. Check out our beautiful state parks – Lake Francis is wonderful! The Cog Rail Road – here’s a brochure. Oh, that’s Onyx – you can visit him again next summer at Clark’s. Would all of you like to be in that picture – I can help. So, you’re looking to move to NH – check out this magazine and once you think you know what region you want, check with the local Chamber of Commerce – they are a great local resource. Bike trails? I’m not sure – Emily? Train rides, shopping, ice cream trails, wine and cheese…you bet we have that! I didn’t know we did white water rafting in NH…where?
Shift one is over and now I start exploring. First stop – the other state buildings – eating my way thru. On to the avenue of vendors – everything I never needed, but they are convincing me that I want it. I see people walking around with boxes of cream puffs – I saw them on WMUR’s promo, yumm – now, that I need, and with some help, I found the bakery. I know I didn’t see ½ of it! I returned to the NH building to put my feet up before returning for another shift.
Shift two – just as much fun. I learned that I know my state and what it has to offer far better than I thought. Time and time again, people told us “I love New Hampshire.” And so do I, so do I!
With my second shift over, I avoid the crowd circling the building and snuck in the back door of the kitchen to get some gourmet Mac and Cheese. I sat on a bench in front of the building enjoying dinner and people watching. As I stood, I realized how weary, yet grateful, this volunteer was. I was glad not to have to drive anywhere. The shuttle – a luxury bus- took me (only me) back to the hotel. I was greeted by name and group association (Granite State Ambassador, right?) as I entered.
My apron and name tag may be put away, but I’ll be back. Next year, for sure!
Many thanks to Emily, Kelly and Bob who have already spent many hours there and undoubtedly will spend many, many more hours at the Big E representing our state.