Future of 2020 Big E in question as West Springfield mayor seeks more details on guidelines

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As Governor Charlie Baker continues to announce his plans to reopen the state’s economy phase-by-phase, the largest fair in New England is still set to take place this fall.

The Big E, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people a year, is still on pace to hold its 104th annual event from September 18 to October 4, even amid a pandemic. There are, however, many concerns moving forward with the planning.

West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt has reached out the the legislative delegation to request clarity as to the possibility of large gatherings in the fall, and when we could expect a ruling from Gov. Baker.

“I get it, it’s four months away, far but close,” Mayor Reichelt told 22News. “We are planning for it to open but we are going to want to have those other guidelines in hand too so we can talk to The Big E and say, ‘are these things you can meet,’ because if they can’t then they can’t open.”

The Big E broke an attendance record last year, attracting more than 1.6 million people. The fair has a huge economic impact not only on our state’s economy, but all of New England. Its annual gross revenues are about $26 million, and there is no cancellation insurance to make up for that loss of revenue.

“I get that there is a pandemic, I get there is a lot of fear. We are going to do what’s best for public safety. Just because it is planned, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Reichelt continued.

For the last month, The Big E fairgrounds has been acting as a COVID-19 test site.

22News Reporter Sydney Snow talked with West Springfield Town Council President Brian Griffin last week. He told 22News that the Eastern State Exposition should draft a public health plan for The Big E. 

The Big E to host free concerts including Jesse McCartney this September. Take a look when the performers will be coming.

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