Big crowds for Connecticut Day at The Big E could pose traffic troubles
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Wednesday was day six at The Big E and is also Connecticut Day, which is typically one of the busiest days for the fair, and with big crowds comes heavy traffic.
Getting to the fair Wednesday wasn’t too bad, but our crew did have to sit in traffic for a while. We spoke with fairgoers about their experiences driving to the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds on Wednesday and we got mixed reactions.
“It wasn’t bad. We really only hit traffic on I-90 west, but that was expected. There was some road work, so yeah, it wasn’t bad. Apple Maps rerouted us to come faster. It saved us some time, so it was nice,” said Allison Abbott and Shae Rix from New Hampshire.
“…Takes 45 minutes to come usually up here. You know, with no traffic, but being a nice day too and the fair and just the highways and stuff, it took an extra 20 minutes, so it took about an hour and 10 minutes,” added Tim.
Connecticut Day also brought in big crowds at The Big E on Wednesday and closed the gap between last year’s attendance numbers and this year’s.
Western Mass News took a closer look at the numbers. In the first five days of The Big E last year, just under 366,000 attended. This year, that number is just over 347,000 people for the same period of time. That’s a difference of almost 19,000 people. We asked Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Gene Cassidy why he thinks the crowds are smaller.
“Monday was a complete washout, so I think, when we closed last night, we are 4.1 percent behind from a year ago which, really, we are in a good place. There’s are a lot of days left to the fair. We have amazing weather,” Cassidy said.
Traffic to get to the fair was another challenge for today. Earlier in the day Wednesday on nearby roads, like Route 5 in Longmeadow, construction had traffic going only through one lane and caused backups. Also, an accident on the Memorial Bridge also caused delays for fairgoers.
The West Springfield Police Department shared a post on social media with a traffic advisory and asked people to plan accordingly and expect delays. Cassidy told us traffic coming to the fair is unavoidable.
“Well, you know, traffic is a challenge. About 44 percent of our attendance comes from the state of Connecticut and sometimes, it can be very difficult to get here,” Cassidy explained. “We do our best to try and direct traffic, but yeah, there is traffic, to be sure, and we feel bad about that, but at this point, 107 years later, it is a fact of life.”
We also spoke with officers conducting traffic near the fair today and they expect heavier traffic from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with kids getting out of school and people getting out of work.
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