‘It was uplifting’: Big E ‘Golden Ticket’ buyers attend fair with lifetime passes

For Wendy Charbonneau, going to the Big E isn’t about cream puffs, giant toboggan or concerts, although she loves all of those things, too. It’s a family matter.

It started when her children were young and continued even as they grew up and left her West Springfield home.

After the Big E closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Charbonneau family gathered on the first weekend of the 2021 fair to begin their annual trip to the Big E.

“We were just talking about the baked potato outside the Connecticut building,” she said. “It’s probably the first thing my kids and I all do. They love it.

But for Charbonneau, the first trip of the year would not be the last. She was one of the 100 Golden Ticket Lifetime Pass buyers.

“It’s for life, so that means as long as I’m there I can go to the Big E as much as I want,” she said.

The tickets were part of a promotion last November after the fair was canceled in 2020. They sold out in a minute and two seconds, The Big E.

“We were blown away and sincerely thank our friends and fans for their support of Eastern States Exposition and our mission of agriculture, education and community,” said Noreen P. Tassinari, spokesperson for The Big E. .

Lifetime passes cost $ 1,000 each and provide entry and parking for the buyer and one guest. Tickets do not transfer after the buyer’s death and The Big E has no plans to re-promote, they told MassLive.

No one, including Charbonneau, had expected them to sell out so quickly, but she still thought her chances of getting one were low.

“I wouldn’t have won the ticket without my colleague’s help because I don’t think I’m so savvy,” she said.

His colleague at Balise Nissan set it up on the computer and ready to upload tickets. To his surprise, it worked.

Then his job got a second surprise when another employee also managed to get a Golden Ticket.

Balise Nissan employees all joked that they would send Charbonneau to pick them up for lunch at the Big E every day, she said with a laugh.

Eugene J. Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, previously said he didn’t expect to make any money on the promotion in the long run. Regular admission for two to the fair is $ 30, and parking is an additional $ 10 – so $ 1,000 tickets represent 25 visits.

“I don’t suspect the Big E will make any money on this,” Cassidy said. “We learned a little about ourselves during the pandemic. We learned how much people love the fair.

This love for the fair and all the memories it brings, that’s exactly what Charbonneau felt.

“I think it’s just trying different things that you wouldn’t have a chance to try normally,” she said. “We all love to watch the butter sculpture, like our whole family for as long as I can remember, we all love to watch it.”

Wendy Charbonneau and her daughter, Charlotte, going up the giant slide.

She also fondly remembers helping parking cars raise funds for the city’s music association, all of the proceeds of which go to students, she said. And walk with the West Springfield Marching Band in the parades.

During the pandemic, she couldn’t go on vacation and spent most of her time working. The “golden ticket,” she decided, would bring her joy during a difficult time.

“It was uplifting,” she said. “Plus, it was great to know that a Big E was going to happen. We also have something to look forward to.”

And he did.

Over a million people attended the Big E before its last weekend, including Charbonneau and his family.

They went to concerts, went on the giant slide, and drank pumpkin beer, which she said is just better at Big E. They also watched the pig race, saw the Clydesdales and watched works of art by local artists.

She was even able to park in the President’s parking space for one of the trips.

It was special but it was also like a return to normal.

“It’s not just about me, it’s about everyone,” she said. “Think how many people will be going to The Big E and how fun it will be for everyone who goes. “

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