By Rachel Holt

SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – Rides, games, live entertainment, and delicious food. On Friday, The Big E returns to West Springfield for a 17-day run after being postponed last year because of the pandemic.

“It’s so exciting. I mean to have us back together again, to be here with the lights, the colors, and the people. To get back to business,” said Gene Cassidy, President & CEO of the Big E.

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More than 80 bands will perform live during the fair on three separate stages.

“On this stage alone, we’re going to open with Jesse McCartney Friday night, and then we’re going to end with DMC,” said John Juliano, co-owner of Mellowship Entertainment.

Also, about 165 vendors will be offering food and beverages of all kinds.

“Creme puffs, number one with a lot of people. There’s sort of a battle with creme puffs or ‘Big E-Clair,’” said Noreen Tassinari, Director of Marketing at The Big E.

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Throughout the fair, a mask mandate will be in effect in West Springfield, requiring people to wear face coverings indoors in public areas.

“There will be an indoor mask mandate. But out of doors is three-fifths of the fair, and I hope everybody takes responsibility and wears their masks,” said Cassidy.

In 2019, 1.6 million visitors attended the Big E, and organizers say the large crowds add a big boost to area businesses.

“They tell us that our economic impact on this region of Massachusetts is over $681 million dollars,” said Cassidy. “I certainly expect more than a million people to come and my goal is to keep everybody healthy and safe and provide the best fair ever for them to enjoy.”

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For information on the fair, visit https://www.thebige.com.

Rachel Holt