WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Friday was opening day of the Big E’s Centennial Celebration, but a big name scheduled to be there was missing.
Tens of thousands crowded the fairgrounds Friday evening to get their hands on something savory, or a peek at something interesting. But the fair started with a bit of an upset: no Shaq, who was scheduled to DJ the “Big E Bash.” Shaq, who performs under the name “D.J. Diesel,” canceled this week to perform at a benefit for flood victims in Baton Rougue, Louisiana.
“I think it’s the right decision, because look at how blessed we all are here,” said Kelly Gougeon of Haydenville. “We have our homes, we get to come to the Big E, and they don’t. So I think that’s the right decision to go support them.”
Instead, the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra filled the slot, performing covers by popular British artists, like David Bowie and The Beatles.
The Big E is hoping to attract 1.5 million people over the 17-day run, beating last year’s record of 1.3 million. Friday was Military Appreciation Day. Free admission for veterans and active military.
“He’s a military veteran,” said Roberta Sawicki of Hampden, CT, referring to her husband, “and we always come opening day. We were in traffic for about 45 minutes, it was very slow moving, but we do this every year, it’s a tradition and we love it.”
A tradition 100 years old, that New England can celebrate these next 2 weeks. Last year’s opening day had more than 73,000 people. This years attendance broke that record with 86,204.