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Big E Will Return This Fall At Full Capacity

Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy, on right, with West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt announce the Big E will be held this year.
Paul Tuthill

        After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, fairs will be returning to New England including the biggest one in the region.

      On the day the state of emergency order in Massachusetts was rescinded, ending all restrictions on the size of events and crowd capacity limits, the official announcement was made that the Big E will be held on the traditional late-September dates at the fairgrounds in West Springfield.

     "It will be a full capacity, unencumbered fair," said Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy.

      He said news that the Big E will return this year will be welcomed by thousands who depend on the event for their livelihoods – some who are local and others he described as “mom and pop small businesses” from throughout the New England states.

      "We can bring the economy back by opening the Big E," Cassidy said.

      The dates for the Big E this year are September 17–Oct. 3.

     The annual fair along with horse shows, trade and hobby shows, and other activities that take place on the fairgrounds throughout the year put an estimated $750 million into the local economy.

     The Big E is the fifth largest fair in North America with annual attendance of 1.5 million people.

     After last year’s fair was canceled, Cassidy said he received hundreds of emails and letters from fairgoers.

     "After we canceled the fair, and we had to do it for everyone's wellbeing, people were very angry with us, people didn't want to give in," Cassidy said.

     The theme for this year’s Big E is “Big is Back.” Debuting this year will be the largest traveling Ferris wheel in North America, which Cassidy said is over 150-feet high.

    "Wait till you see it," Cassidy said.

     The Big E Circus will be held in a new tent with a capacity of 2,700 people.  There will be no live animal acts in this circus.

      A regional COVID-19 vaccination center located at the Eastern States’ fairgrounds will close later this week.  West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said about 10,000 people were vaccinated there since it opened in April.

     "We did a lot of outreach into the community, opened up walk-in hours to try to get  as many people vaccinated as possible," Reichelt said.

     The fairgrounds also hosted a drive-through COVID-19 testing site last year.



The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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