On this day in 1914, a group of western Massachusetts businessmen created a new organization, the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition. Its purpose was to promote New England agriculture, which was in serious decline, by linking it to New England industry, which was thriving. In less than ten months, the men leading the Eastern States movement turned 175 acres of swampy land along the Westfield River into a showcase for agricultural and industrial exhibits and a place for wholesome entertainment. In the fall of 1916, 45,000 people attended the first event held on the grounds. Nearly 90 years later, the Big E, as the fair has long been called, draws 1,000,000 visitors a year to that same site in West Springfield.