SOUTHWICK – Moolicious Ice Cream owner Joseph Deedy said he was “disappointed” with the announcement that The Big E was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, he wasn’t surprised.
“We knew it was coming, but it was hard to hear,” Deedy said.
Big E Public Relations and Communications Manager Catherine Pappas sent the official announcement Monday afternoon.
“On behalf of the staff and trustees of Eastern States Exposition, I bring you a very difficult message to convey. For the safety of our fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers and the broader community, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Big E,” she wrote. “Please know that this decision was not made lightly. In fact, it was one of the hardest decisions we, as an organization, have had to make in modern times.”
For small businesses like Moolicious, the 17-day Big E fair was a crucial part of its yearly budget.
“In those 17 days, if you do it right and you have a niche, you can make more than in your storefront,” Deedy said.
For Deedy, he is already trying to move forward to attempt to recover from the loss.
“We have our scoop truck that will be around town and we have our Big E favorites – the Moo Nut and fritters – in our restaurant,” he said.
Deedy said the revenue loss will trickle down. Not only will businesses such as Moolicious miss out, but the businesses Moolicious contracts with, such as Mansfield Paper for the napkins Deedy used at the fair and Millie’s Pierogi where Deedy purchased his pierogi.
“It definitely trickles down – there’s a ton of money that flows through The Big E,” he said.
Deedy said he “cried for five minutes, then moved on” and is already planning how to make up some of the revenue. The Three-County Fair is the last hold-out for regional fairs, but Deedy said he expects that will be canceled.
Deedy said making up for the losses would be tough, but “we will look for other opportunities.”
Moolicious, at 258 Feeding Hills Road in Southwick, is open daily 12-9 p.m..
For John Mountain, owner of The Granville Country Store, opportunities to recuperate the loss of The Big E could be fewer and farther between, especially because he expects the Granville Harvest Fair will also be canceled.
“It’s going to be awful,” he said. “It’s a big loss for us and for the employees we hire,” Mountain said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Mountain had begun planning and purchasing supplies for the fair.
“It takes months to get ready,” he said. “It’s a snowball effect.”
Mountain said COVID-19 has hit small businesses hard. He said he hopes his regular Big E customers will be willing to travel to Granville to purchase his famous Granville Country Store Cheese.
The Granville Country Store, at 11 Granby Road in Granville, is open daily from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Pappas noted that The Big E Fair 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.”
There is precedent in the Exposition’s 104-year history when the Fair was put on hold during WWI and for five years during WWII. We’ve made it through difficult times before…the Flood of 1936…the Hurricane of 1938 and, 9-11, and together we’ll get through these unprecedented times as well.
“We know our faithful fairgoers will be disappointed.,” Pappas stated. “This decision was difficult and complex, but we all know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year.”
The Big E is slated for Sept. 17-Oct. 3, 2021. All purchases for the Zach Williams concert, scheduled for Sept. 20, will be refunded in full. The Big E Box Office will be contacting ticket purchasers directly.