Smoke from Canadian wildfires having impact on local businesses

Lingering air quality concerns in western Massachusetts continue to affect local businesses, some more than others.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 2:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2023 at 3:28 PM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - Lingering air quality concerns in western Massachusetts continue to affect local businesses, some more than others.

“He texted me at 8 a.m. and goes ‘Gee whiz, Carol. The smoke and the haze! Do we really want to fly today?’” said Carol Whelan of Suffield, CT.

Whelan’s travels were supposed to take her to the skies at Barnes Regional Airport on Thursday until air quality concerns from Canadian wildfire smoke grounded her flight.

“That was a cancellation for the day, so we’re up here buying plants,” Whelan added.

At Calabrese Farms in Southwick, they’re feeling the continued effects of smoke and haze this week.

“We’re not getting the heat we’re supposed to have just [because] it’s like being in the shade all day long,” said Joe Calabrese with Calabrese Farms.

Calabrese told Western Mass News that between low temperatures and a lack of sunlight, their summer crops aren’t growing at a time of the year when sunlight should be abundant.

“We should be picking summer squash and zucchini and everything like that, but the fruit that’s on the plants has just been sitting there,” Calabrese added.

It’s also pushing back the timeline of their fall crops, but everyone’s doing the best they can.

“Keep going everyday like we’re supposed to,” Calabrese noted.

The local air quality hasn’t been a burden for all businesses.

“The air conditioning is cool in here and the beer is cold,” said Mark Avery, co-owner and head brewer at Two Weeks Notice Brewery.

Two Weeks Notice Brewery in West Springfield said they’re enjoying a bigger midweek crowd.

“We had an event on Tuesday that was pretty packed and yesterday seemed to be somewhat busier too as well for a Wednesday, so I think people are definitely taking shelter,” Avery added.

They’re expecting another big night on Thursday where you can grab a drink at Moe’s Tavern pop-up, from the world of The Simpsons, inside the brewery.

“If you’re a Simpson’s fan and you ever wanted to sit at the bar at Moe’s, have a beer, be Homer or Barney, we got a spot for Barney too…It is as close as you’re gonna get to stepping on the TV screen,” said Joe McCullough, CEO of JMC Pop-ups.

The event runs through Sunday and tickets are still available if you want to step out of the smoke and onto the big screen.

“It’s a lot of work, but then you really get that satisfaction of people coming through in their eyes wide open and going, ‘Well, I didn’t know it was going to be this,’” McCullough added.

Tickets to the Moe’s Tavern pop-up are still available. In the meantime, the air quality remains at unhealthy levels in several communities around western Massachusetts, including Springfield, Westfield, East Longmeadow, and Ware.