(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
The railroad meant stiff competition from Midwestern farms for New England farmers. George Sheldon of Deerfield, Massachusetts, declared in 1898 that "railroads were bread and meat to the Buckeye . . . and the Hoosier, but poison to the Yankee farmer." Other local farmers and businessmen were more optimistic. They argued that New England agriculture would not only survive but flourish so long as farmers adopted modern farming techniques and good business practices. A group of visionaries led by Joshua L. Brooks of Springfield, Massachusetts, came up with a vehicle to promote both regional agriculture and industry. They formed the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition in 1914 and opened the annual exposition in 1916. Over the last eighty years, the "Big 'E'" has successfully highlighted and promoted the best of New England industry and agriculture. This impressive display of produce appeared on a postcard of the Eastern States Exposition in 1923.