Revel in holiday spirit at Light Up the Fairgrounds

  • A display from Deerfield’s Ciesluk Farmstand at Light Up the Fairgrounds in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • An elaborate holiday display at Light Up the Fairgrounds. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Santa Claus waves goodbye to visitors as they exit Franklin County Fairgrounds. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • A display by Skeleton Crew Theater at “Light Up the Fairgrounds.” STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • One of the displays at Light Up the Fairgrounds. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2021 3:20:24 PM

GREENFIELD — If you happened to drive by Franklin County Fairgrounds this past weekend, you would have thought you took a wrong turn toward the North Pole with the grounds all decked out for the holidays.

This year’s Light Up the Fairgrounds, a drive-thru holiday light display, runs Nov. 26 to 28, Dec. 3 to 5, and Dec. 10 to 12 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The second annual event features 36 entries competing for the year’s best display and raising money for the fairgrounds, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter. The show’s proceeds are donation-based with each car asked to give a minimum of $5.

Queuing for the event will be via Laurel Street and will wrap around the fairgrounds to the main entrance.

Sharon Cross, a Light Up the Fairgrounds committee member and board director of the Fairgrounds and Big Brothers Big Sisters, said she hopes the event brings in more than last year’s $35,000. At the end of the day, though, Cross said the most important priority is “bringing people together.”

At 5 p.m. Sunday evening, Cross paced back and forth between fairgrounds workers, giving out directions while also assisting event-goers with their questions. She said that over the past week, preparation and turnout have been less than ideal due to the weather.

“It hasn’t caught on as well as last year yet because it’s been really windy the past few days,” she said of the event, adding that “everything blew down” earlier in the week.

Cross said that her estimated $2,500 current donation total, 150-car Friday turnout, and 250-car Saturday turnout were modest in comparison to totals from this time last year. She remained optimistic, however, in her commitment to “getting things perfect again,” hoping for Sunday’s turnout to continue the upward trend.

“Tonight, we’re hoping it’s going to double again,” she said.

Cross backed up her optimism with the rationale that people are hungry for excitement this winter, following a year where COVID-19 restrictions strictly limited entertainment opportunities.

“People are going to be in the holiday spirit,” she said. “People are going to be home and ready to do something.”

Those who were present Sunday evening rolled slowly through the fairgrounds in their vehicles, careful to take in every detail on display. Some vehicles had their windows rolled down in spite of the mid-30s temperature, the wondrous chatter of families escaping the cab to join the festive atmosphere.

“It’s so cute because people sit in the car and parents talk to the kids about who they’re going to vote for,” Cross said.

Votes are written in on ballots provided to spectators. After the last night of the display, a first, second, and third place winner will be announced. The winners will be awarded $1,000, $500, and $250 respectively, with money coming from sponsor Franklin First Federal Credit Union.

Aside from helping local nonprofits, Cross said “Light Up the Fairgrounds” is a good way to “show that Franklin County is Franklin County.”

“We’re good, you know?” she said.

Light Up the Fairgrounds is organized by WHAI, Bear Country, The Outlaw and Easy 107.5.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


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