We’ll Always Have Paris

I write a weekly newspaper column and chair an arts council so I get a lot of press releases. You just can’t make some of this stuff up.

The nice folks at The Big E sent me this year’s entertainment lineup for the fair.

The Big E, the Eastern States Exposition, is New England’s biggest state fair, with “year-round opportunities for the development and promotion of agriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving our New England heritage.” It culminates in a “field days” festival that starts in September. And it’s a lot more than farm implements.

“It’s your little girl’s squeals of delight every time a cow looks her way. Or the way your husband smiles after finishing a Craz-E Burger, or fried dough, or key-lime-pie-on-a-stick. It’s the look on your best friend’s face as she twirls through the sky on a crazy ride. Or the feeling you get when you catch a strand of Mardi Gras beads at the parade. The biggest fair in the Northeast is filled with amazing little moments. What will yours be?”

State fairs began in the nineteenth century to promote state agriculture, so they have always had livestock, farm products, competitions, and entertainment.

Gotta bring in the rubes.

The Texas State Fair had balloon ascents and “appearances by such notables as John Philip Sousa, William Jennings Bryan, Carrie Nation and Booker T. Washington.” The Iowa State Fair has had more than politicians to entertain us over the years, too.

In 1881, historian James Wilson noted that, “One of the most valuable effects of the [Iowa] State Fair is the fraternizing, humanizing consequences of bringing our people together … No one meets and mingles with 20,000 Iowa men, women and children on the Fairgrounds — the only place they can be brought together — without growth of sympathy.”

In 1922, two locomotives traveling at 10 mph crashed into each other in the second staged train wreck at the Iowa Grandstand. In 1925, more than 100 people entered the new fiddlers’ contest. The new Education Building in 1927 was a great attraction with its second floor art gallery.

The Big E is the only state fair in the nation with six states; the Avenue of States has replicas of each New England state’s original statehouse sitting on land owned by that state. The Vermont Building was constructed in 1926.

In past years, the fair has hosted bands I have booked or know well including Prydein for Celtic rock, the Western swing of Rick and the Ramblers, JimmyT and the Cobras with outlaw rock, Young Tradition Vermont, and many more. My friend Rebecca Padula who played for me at Bay Day this year was disinvited from the Big E lineup because her singing partner moved to California last week.

Some performers are more widely known.

Paris HiltonHidden among the 2015 notes that Alabama will play, that the Big E is ranked as the fifth largest fair in North America, that the Charlie Daniels Band will kick off the proceedings, and the agriculture results, is Paris Hilton.

Paris Hilton? “Yes, this is for real…Paris Hilton has added turntables and headphones to her accessories and is Western MA bound to DJ at The Big E!”

Turns out her debut album sold over 600,000 copies worldwide.

She can sing?

I watched her semi-explicit Good Time bubble gum video which features Lil Wayne.

She can sing?

The Big E had DJ Pauly D perform in 2013, something they called a “big success, attracting thousands of fans to the Fair.”

Paris might draw more, but for singing?

They have a countdown clock. The 2015 Big E with Paris starts in exactly 73 days, 20 hours, 00 minutes, and 00 seconds. I may go this year. I’ve always wanted to watch cow wrangling in Paris.