The largest fair in the Northeast opens its gates to the public Friday morning in western Massachusetts.

 The Big E has set attendance records in each of the last three years making it the fifth largest fair in North America. 

The fair, which will mark its centennial next year, has stayed true to its roots as a showplace for New England agriculture and industry, according to Big E President Gene Cassidy.

“The problem seems to be to find the joy,” Shawn LaCount, Company One Theatre’s co-founder and artistic director, says with a reassuring smile to a young actor. “Once you find it, the rest is great.” The actor smiles back a little nervously.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced funding awards for rental housing development across the state and highlighted a pilot program to open new preschool classrooms.  He did both during a visit to Holyoke. 

Baker announced funding to build or preserve almost 1,500 apartments at 23 projects in 15 communities across the state. He made the announcement at one of the sites chosen—Lyman Terrace, a 76-year-old, 167-unit public housing complex in downtown Holyoke, where tenants fought a plan a few years ago to demolish their homes.

  Norman Rockwell is still celebrated for his depiction of everyday life in America. As WAMC’s Jim Levulis found out when he met some of the people who posed for the Americana artist, the models are regular people to this day.

“Interesting.” That’s how Gov. Charlie Baker described a proposal to make train travel in and out of Boston easier, by building a tunnel between the city’s North and South stations.

However, the governor is taking a cautious approach, noting that the plan — championed by former Govs. William Weld and Michael Dukakis at a private meeting Wednesday — could cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Part of a five-part series, called “Arts Forward

Let’s begin this look at museums in the 21st century by beaming back… to 20th century Amsterdam.

In 1952, Stedelijk Museum curator and Director Willem Sandberg introduced the first portable gallery audio tour. It was a wireless, elegant device created to enhance the visitor experience with additional content — and it was revolutionary.

On Monday night, the Boston City Council’s Committee on Education is expected to take up an issue city schools have been struggling with for more than four decades: diversity in the classroom.

But councilors won’t be talking about diversity among students. Instead, the focus will be on the diversity of the teaching staff.

The tribes that own Connecticut’s two casinos signed a partnership today to pursue developing a third casino to compete with the planned MGM Resorts casino in Springfield.

MGM has denied it might downsize the $800 million dollar hotel-casino complex planned in Springfield if faced with competition close by in Connecticut. 

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno Thursday said he expects MGM to build a resort casino that will employ 3,000 people, as promised.

Two of Boston’s longest running stories and scandals have hit the Venice Film Festival as Hollywood movies. One of them, “Black Mass,” comes with a big star, big buzz and the name Whitey Bulger.

Exploring The Hoopla And Tension Surrounding ‘Black Mass’

On the island of Ledo, movie stars arrive from Venice in sleek water taxis trimmed and decked in mahogany and teak. They’re called motoscafi and their big engines await the throttle.

This is how Jake Gyllenhaal entered the cinema — through the hordes of paparazzi along the canal.

Cacophony has taken over Matt Kressy’s MIT class. But the noise is planned, and soon, he hopes, it will become music.

This week, Kressy has put MIT’s first-ever integrated design and management (IDM) students in a kind of boot camp. He wanted to immerse the engineers, designers and business school students in a project where they would have to work in concert.

Close to $10 million in local, state, and federal money has been spent in the last couple of years to construct or renovate parks of all shapes and sizes in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.  The projects have opened up new recreational opportunities, eliminated blight, and brought parks closer to the people.

Children this summer had a chance to cool off and play on a splash pad in one of Springfield’s newest parks.

The world’s largest maker of passenger rail cars is planning to break ground this week on a new factory in western Massachusetts.

Governor Charlie Baker is among the officials scheduled to speak Thursday at the ceremony to mark the start of construction on a $60 million 200,000 square foot factory on Springfield’s east side. 

CNR-MA, a subsidiary of Chinese government-owned Changchun Rail Vehicles, purchased the 40 acre site for $12 million, according to spokesperson Lydia Rivera.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the state has reached a first-in-the-nation agreement with the maker of an opioid overdose reversal drug.

An exhibit at the Berkshire Museum is showcasing the work of a photojournalist whose collections of images from nearly 100 countries have been displayed in museums around the world, including at the Louvre in Paris. An opening reception is set for Friday at 5:30.

MGM is setting out to fill some of the 2,000 construction jobs that were promised to build the company’s $800 million Springfield casino.

MGM officials are scheduling two days of interviews, Thursday and Friday, with minority-owned and women-owned union construction companies interested in bidding for jobs on the project. 

The Las Vegas-based entertainment company  interviewed veteran-owned businesses in July at its Springfield construction office. 

Massachusetts is joining a national movement to reexamine get-tough-on-crime policies.

Massachusetts state leaders earlier this month committed to a comprehensive review of the state’s criminal justice policies with a goal to reduce the cost of incarceration and improve public safety by reducing recidivism. 

The first casino in Massachusetts netted $18 million in its first full month in business.

 People gambled $181 million at the Plainridge Park Casino in July, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  The casino kept $18 million. Over a full year it works out to $217 million in gross gaming revenue, which would be more than the state’s full-year projection of $200 million.  

Casino industry expert Clyde Barrow said Plainridge Park had a spectacular opening.

The head of Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation spent Wednesday learning about and celebrating projects in the Berkshires.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening of the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.

The commission voted 5-0 Thursday to set a September 2018 opening date for the $800 million resort casino — a year later than originally planned.  

Although MassDOT says the reconstruction of I-91, which is right next to the casino site, could be done as soon as December 2017, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis argued it was prudent to plan for a later finish.

MGM Springfield

Casino developer MGM Resorts International has filed a lawsuit against three top Connecticut officials, including Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

New data shows the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is worse than public health officials feared.

The number of opioid deaths in 2014 totaled 1,256 according to revised numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Initial estimates had 1,008 people dying of drug overdoses last year. 

And, the epidemic shows no signs of lettering up.  An estimated 312 people are thought to have died of an overdose in the first three months of this year. 

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is extending the contract of its music director, who last year became the orchestra's youngest conductor in a century.

Sam Hudzik / NEPR

An Adams, Massachusetts man accused of plotting to attack a college on behalf of the self-declared Islamic State has pleaded not guilty. Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was arraigned Wednesday at federal court in Springfield.

Hours before his group’s Olympic bid collapsed, Boston 2024 co-founder Corey Dinopoulos wrote a letter to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh had just said he would not support a guarantee to back the games with public funding in the event of cost overruns.

Carrie Healy / NEPR

Funeral services were held Monday for Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, the Marine from Springfield who was killed by a gunman in Chattanooga, Tennessee, earlier this month. Outside the church where the Mass was held, the community continued to show its support for the Sullivan family.

It's official. The 2024 Olympic Games will not take place in Boston.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Olympic Committee "severed ties" with Boston on Monday. In a statement, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, "I strongly believe that bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States would be good for our country and would have brought long-term benefits to Boston." He continued, "However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result."

Friends, family and several dignitaries have been attending services in Springfield today for the local Marine killed in the shooting at a naval reserve center in Tennessee earlier this month.

As part of the state budget, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the creation of a rural policy commission in Massachusetts. It continues a longstanding effort to express small town needs in the Boston-centric commonwealth.

The funeral for the Springfield, Massachusetts native, who was among the Marines killed last week by a gunman in Tennessee, will be private.

A spokesman for the family of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan said Monday’s funeral will be for family, friends and invited dignitaries only.  

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will be the main celebrant and homilist for the service at Holy Cross Church in the East Forest Park neighborhood where Sullivan grew up.  Burial will be at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam. 

A new report says delays in building the two licensed resort casinos in Massachusetts could cost the state $ 1 billion in lost revenue.