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Ray DiStefano Citizenship Award


In 1916 the Eastern States Exposition was conceived by Joshua l Brooks, which today is known as the Big E. His concept was to promote agriculture and educate young people with the skills and knowledge needed in the agricultural vocation.

Brooks also knew that farming in New England was on the decline and that production cost were soaring. His hope was to create an Exposition that would provide demonstrations of new farming methods and establish competitive awards which would inspire farmers and their children to produce more efficiently and sponsor cooperative purchasing that would lower the farmers’ cost. Above all Brooks believed in developing and showcasing an agricultural New England.

For more than 100 years, Eastern States Exposition has remained true to the vision of its founder Joshua Brooks. He created a place where agriculture is celebrated, young people are mentored, and New England's history and traditions are preserved. Today's Eastern States Exposition is a major economic engine providing tremendous benefits to the entire New England region as well as being involved with the community.

In 1917, the eastern States Exposition partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of America to sponsor youth competitions for animal husbandry, botany, cooking, and today the Eastern States Exposition is still involved with the Boys and Girls Club.

Their support of the community doesn’t end there. The Eastern States Exposition has made annual donations to the Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund. The donation to the Big E/West Springfield Trust represents 1% of the ESE gross annual revenues.

Past grant recipients have included the West Springfield Public Schools and the Town Departments including Park & Rec, the Council on Aging, DPW, Fire and Police, the West Springfield Public Library Building Fund. In addition, local organizations like historical groups, veteran organizations and countless sport team have also been beneficiaries.

Eastern States Exposition also has the Big E Scholarship and has presented scholarships to three 2022 West Springfield High School graduates. The $1,000 scholarship was established by the Exposition to benefit graduates who intend on furthering their academic career. The three recipients were presented with their awards on June 22 by ESE President and CEO Gene Cassidy.

The Eastern States Exposition is also proud to support the West Springfield St. Patricks’ parade committee. ESE annually provides monetary support to the committee and makes buildings available to build the award-winning Colleen Float each year for which the float was showcased during the 2022 Big E Mardi Gras daily parade for the 17 days of the fair.



Other support for the community that comes from the Eastern States Exposition includes ESE donated its Transportation Center as a COVID testing site during the height of the pandemic as well as a Regional Vaccination Center in the spring of 2021. In the midst of the pandemic, when area businesses, as well as the WS Boys and Girls Club, were in need of barriers to enable drive-through pick up/drop off and food to go efforts, ESE lent a number of businesses bicycle barriers, delivering them and picking them up when they were no longer needed. ESE grounds were used for two unique events during the lockdown—a drive-through “Flutes and Flavors,” the major fundraiser for WS Boys and Girls Club and the Drive by Colleen Parade. In the past ESE donated and transported ticket booths to the Town Common for West Side’s Taste of the Valley.

The St. Patrick’s Parade Committee of West Springfield is proud to present the 2023 Ray DiStefano Citizenship Award to the Eastern States Exposition for being a driving force for our community with their support and devotion of so many.

Past Ray DiStefano Citizenship Award Recipients

  • Oscar Paquette* 1986

  • Raymond DiStefano* 1987

  • Bill & Nancy Geas 1988

  • Linda Healy 1989

  • Thomas Taylor* 1990

  • William Joseph 1991

  • Thomas Lagodich* 1992

  • Lorraine Martin* 1993

  • Robert J. Haas 1994

  • Westbank 1995

  • Aldo Bertera* 1996

  • Fred Guzik 1997

  • Lillian St. Pierre* 1998

  • Diane Crowell* 1999

  • Ted & Barbra Hebert 2000

  • Hon. Walter A. Defilippi 2001

  • Clifford S. Joseph* 2002

  • John J. DeFilipi* 2003

  • Anthony DiGiore* 2004

  • Robert & Barbara Amsden 2005

  • Phyllis Austin* – Bertera 2006

  • John & Scott Ansart 2007

  • Steve Buoniconti 2008

  • Gordon Pillsbury 2009

  • Ann & David* Crosier 2010

  • Allen Howard 2011

  • Mike* & Rose Desrosiers 2012

  • Jack Pinkerman 2013

  • Domenic & Michelle Battista 2014

  • John & Mark Kenney (The Turkey Bowl) 2015

  • Soupy For Loopy Foundation, Inc 2016

  • The West Springfield Lions Club 2017

  • Lisa Light of Hope 2018

  • West Springfield Youth Sports Association​ 2019

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