‘Light Up the Fairgrounds’ to raise money for nonprofits, brighten spirits

  • Ericka Almeida, development director with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, is organizing a “Light Up the Fairgrounds” drive-thru holiday light display for the three weekends after Thanksgiving. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Ericka Almeida, development director with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, is organizing a “Light Up the Fairgrounds” drive-thru holiday light display for the three weekends after Thanksgiving. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2020 5:07:44 PM

GREENFIELD — Three nonprofits and a radio station are looking for at least 30 individuals, businesses and organizations to brighten up not only the Franklin County Fairgrounds, but people’s spirits.

Based on Springfield’s Bright Nights, the drive-thru event, called “Light Up the Fairgrounds,” will involve a juried selection of displays, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County’s Development Director Ericka Almeida said. Attendees will decide the top three winners.

Almeida said she was searching for a way to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters while also bringing some holiday cheer, when she recalled taking her children to Bright Nights when they were younger. Still, she knows that not everyone has the means to get to Springfield.

So, Almeida contacted the local radio station (WHAI, Bear Country, The Outlaw) and asked for help.

“They did the promotion for us,” she said. “The fairgrounds is letting us use the property at no cost. Proceeds will go to BBBS, Franklin County Sheriff’s Regional Dog Shelter in Turners Falls and the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Each will have certain nights when the profits go to them.”

Almeida said there were so many factors to consider when hosting an event like “Light Up the Fairgrounds” during a pandemic.

“We first and foremost needed to keep people safe, hence the drive-thru,” she said. “It’s a natural fit. To make something of this magnitude successful, we knew we’d need to partner with someone like the radio station, so I pitched the idea and they were instantly on board.”

Each vehicle will be charged a minimum donation of $5, though anyone may give more, if they’d like to support their favorite nonprofit(s).

“It’s going to be a safe, affordable, family-friendly holiday event that gives people something to look forward to,” Almeida said. “There will be no walking around the event so that we keep it pandemic-safe.”

The Franklin First Federal Credit Union also became involved, and is sponsoring the three top prizes, including a $1,000 first-place award. Second place will receive $500 and third place will receive $250.

Drivers will receive a ballot at the main gate, and they and their passengers will decide their top three favorites.

“The planning committee will tally the ballots at the end of the three-weekend event and announce the winners,” Almeida explained.

The radio station will set up a holiday channel that attendees can tune into as they drive through the fairgrounds, but due to the pandemic, there will not be any vendors or food. Stopping to get out of vehicles is prohibited.

“We anticipate the holidays may be very hard on people this year,” Almeida said. “With the possibility of not seeing family and friends in the usual manor and our entertainment options quite limited, we believe that ‘Light Up the Fairgrounds’ will be a bright spot during this holiday season.

“The county never fails us, and I’m sure its members will come through again and visit this wonderful display,” she continued. “We want to bring them some joy. And, we’re hoping to make this an annual event, even after the pandemic is long over.”

To enter a display, individuals, businesses and organizations should visit bbbs-fc.org/events-2 for an entry form. There is no entry fee, but the deadline to register is Friday, Oct. 30. Only 30 displays will be accepted.

Community members can drive through the Franklin County Fairgrounds on three consecutive weekends to see the holiday displays: Nov. 27, 28 and 29; Dec. 4, 5 and 6; and Dec. 11, 12 and 13. The event will be held on each of those days between 5 and 9 p.m.

For more information, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 413-772-0915 or email info@bbbs-fc.org.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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