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The Big E is canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

The Big E has been cancelled for 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big E has been cancelled for 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Sean Patrick Fowler)

The Big E, which was one of the last holdouts as agricultural fairs throughout New England were canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, announced on Monday that the 2020 fair will not take place.

The Facebook page of the Eastern States Exposition posted “The Big E is so much more than just a fair, it is tradition, it is celebration, it is the showcase of everything we are so proud of in New England. This is why our hearts are heavy as we bring you this news. For the safety of our fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers and the broader community, the 2020 Big E has been cancelled. Thank you all for your support and we’ll see you September 17-October 3, 2021, when we can all celebrate together again.”

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A longer statement on thebige.com stated that the 104-year-old fair also was not held for several years during World Wars I and II. In a video posted on the site, Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of The Big E, said “we feel your disappointment and we feel it deeply.

“This decision was difficult and complex but we all know in our hearts that this is the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year,” Cassidy said. “Despite exploring all of our options and planning extensively, we realized that The Big E experience that everyone has come to know and love just wouldn’t be the same.”

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In an interview in May, Cassidy said canceling the fair would be a last-resort and expensive decision, because the fair is not supported by the six New England states it represents.

“In New York, Gov. Cuomo has given $120 million to the New York State Fair in the last four or five years. If the governor cancels the fair, he’s on the hook to support the fair,” he said. “Nobody’s going to be supporting Eastern States except Eastern States. If we don’t have a fair, it would be difficult for an organization like ours to be able to sustain itself.”

In that interview, Cassidy said there is no insurance for the cancellation of the entire fair, which has an annual gross revenue estimated at $22 million.

“For the entire event, to insure it probably would cost about the $22 million we’d make putting it on,” Cassidy said.

The Big E Box Office will contact ticket and pass purchasers directly, the website states. All purchases for the Zach Williams concert, scheduled for Sept. 20, will be refunded in full.

Susan Dunne can be reached at sdunne@courant.com.

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