Jill Kaufman


Jill Kaufman has been reporting and hosting at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent almost 10 years in the news department at WBUR in Boston, five of them at The Connection with Christopher Lydon. In the months leading up to the 2000 New Hampshire primary Jill hosted NHPR’s call in talk show The Exchange. During the 2000 South Carolina Primary she hosted NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. Right before coming to NEPM, Jill was an editor at PRI's The World

The Big E, a 104-year-old New England agricultural fair, is canceled for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtesy Eastern States Exposition

The Big E — the giant annual agricultural fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts — is canceled this year, Eastern States Exposition officials announced Monday. In recent years, more than a million people have come to the area during the fair's two-week run. 

In 2019, the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted more than a million visitors. Tickets for the September 2020 fair are available for purchase.
Courtesy of The Big E

Tickets are being sold for the Eastern States Exposition — or The Big E — in West Springfield, Massachusetts, known for livestock competitions, rides and fried food. The website even has a countdown to a supposed opening day, September 18. 

Nicole M. Young in Northampton, Mass.
Courtesy of Nicole M. Young / Samm Smith Design & Photography

Black Writers Read, live and online June 19th, is the brainchild of several western Massachusetts writers. The event began as a response to a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, originally scheduled for the same day. June 19 is Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery in the U.S. 

Young@Heart, in a recent rehearsal, from their homes in western Massachusetts.
Screen Shot / Jill Kaufman / NEPR

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Young@Heart, the western Massachusetts chorus whose youngest member is 75 years old and oldest is 90, was forced to cancel in-person rehearsals. They started meeting online and making "quarantine videos."

Astronomer Stephen Schneider stands in the middle of the UMass Amherst sunwheel, explaining how a solstice actually lasts more than one day.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Concerned that as many as 100 people could show up on the first day of summer at at its mini-Stonehenge during the pandemic, UMass Amherst has canceled a ritual pre-dawn solstice talk. Skywatchers need not worry about missing out, as the astronomical occurrence takes place over several days.

"Say Their Names" is a new mural in Springfield, Mass., led by artist Wane One.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Public murals went up around Springfield, Mass., last year as a form of community building. This week, amid widespread protests of police brutality and racism, a group of cultural institutions including Art for the Soul Gallery and Common Wealth Murals is supporting a new mural in Springfield.

Shamari "Shamrok" Stampp, at a public piano in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

In downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, inside an atrium near the corner of Main and Harrison, is a public piano. Shamari Stampp comes to it at least once a week. 

Timna Tarr, a quilt artist in Holyoke, Massachusetts, finds needed exercise behind her sewing machine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

A fabric artist in Holyoke, Massachusetts, has been sewing pieces of quilts together almost daily during the COVID-19 pandemic. With no specific project in mind, Timna Tarr said it's needed exercise to sit behind her machine and just sew.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski issued a directive that closed, until further notice as of March 17, all diocesan churches and chapels in response to COVID-19.
Anne-Gerard Flynn / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Governor Charlie Baker has unveiled his administration's multipart plan to restart the Massachusetts economy. Included in the first phase, along with manufacturing and construction projects, are houses of worship. They are now allowed to reopen within certain guidelines, but not all are planning to do so. 

Usually attracting tens of thousands of visitors, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets in May 2020 were canceled because of COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / File photo / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

Like so many events this spring in Massachusetts and around New England, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets were canceled for May because of the pandemic. For the businesses that make the more than 50-year-old show come to life, it's a deep hit, and some dealers are salvaging what they can. 

In the play "This Is Your Captain," an airplane wing catches fire and elicits strong feelings among the passengers. It's being rehearsed and performed online.
ruifo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/ruimc

Actors and directors are finding ways to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by producing theater online. Among the plays in rehearsal in western Massachusetts is a 10-minute piece, "This Is Your Captain."

Graduates from UMass Amherst in 2019 line up for commencement exercises. Most May 2020 commencement events in the U.S. were canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office of News and Media Relations / UMass Amherst

Updated at 3:05 p.m. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, college students all over the country were sent home to finish up the school year and it soon became clear that graduation ceremonies would be canceled. 

Art hangs in a window at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

A new survey indicates Massachusetts cultural businesses have lost more than $250,000,000 in revenue since mid-March. 

 At the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Madame Tricot (Dominique Kaehler Schweizer)'s "A Selection of Vegetables 2019." The hand-knitted wool art is part of the exhibit "Savor," now only online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toni Hafkenscheid

Like so many places where people gather, museums are closed in the COVID-19 pandemic and people have lost their jobs. Around New England, the big museums are taking a variety of approaches to engage would-be visitors and donors as they try to envision the future. 

In western Massachusetts, North Hadley Congregational Church, like other houses of worship, is trying to keep people connected.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

As people of Jewish faith observe Passover this week on Zoom, for Christians it is Holy Week, ending with Easter Sunday. Music is at the core of many religious rituals.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, congregants at one western Massachusetts church haven’t been singing in the same room over the past few weeks. But their voices are still being heard in unison.

Concerned about the safety of staff and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mass Audubon is among the nature and land conservation groups to close their properties to the public.
Courtesy Mass Audubon

New England governors are urging people to stay home as much as possible to avoid the spread of COVID-19, while keeping open state trails, forests and some beaches so there are places to exercise. Among the caveats to playing outside, social distancing is a must — and it's not always happening.

John Samek of Hardwick Winery delivers wine to Piyush Patel of Northampton Liquors and Wine. Samek has had to close his weekend venue where he serves wine, but can still sell by the bottle. Patel has fewer customers, but they're buying more.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Massachusetts, Connecticut and other states have designated the retail sale of alcoholic beverages as "essential business” during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning packages stores are allowed to stay open. 

Days before Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, some already had.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered non-essential businesses in the state to shut their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But what is considered “essential” by the state could change.

Musician Faith Rheault was in the lineup on the premiere night of SocialDistancingFest, live concerts online featuring music from western Massachusetts and beyond.
Screen Shot

A ban on large gatherings has shut down the music club scene in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Necessity being the mother of invention, among the inventors is a group of friends from western Massachusetts who are producing several weeks’ worth of live music events, online at the #SocialDistancingFest. 

Sarah Devine with her father and brother behind the counter at their restaurant Brad's Place in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on March 18, 2020.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

As the effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic continues, many waitstaff, cooks and bartenders in Massachusetts lost their jobs almost overnight this week, as Governor Charlie Baker ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms.

Some are shutting down completely, but others are trying to survive through takeout and delivery.

Shoppers are stocking up on food, toilet paper, soap and hand sanitizer when it's available.
Sam Hudzik / NEPR

How do you get ready for something when you don't exactly know what it is? That's been the recent scenario in many communities, as people learn more about the new coronavirus and try to prepare for a potential quarantine at home.

Even on one of the coldest days of winter, there's a lot of bare flesh on display at Oxbow Tattoo in Easthampton, Mass. It's where artist Eric Talbot, who's been drawing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the franchise since the late 1980s is about to ink his first full-color Ninja Turtle tattoo.

"I have two greens that I'm considering," Talbot says as he follows a stencil outline on his client's arm. "But I'm not going to just have a flat color. "I'm working colors together like I do with my traditional art."

In Massachusetts, performing arts centers like the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, and Tanglewood in Lenox are among the types of non-profit venues that could apply for "mitigation" funds through casino tax revenue.
Jasperdo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/66733752@N00

Some nonprofit arts venues in Massachusetts could get money from the state if they can demonstrate their bottom lines have been hurt by casino entertainment.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, at left, with Connecticut artist George-Ann Gowan at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv in 2017.
U.S. Embassy, Kyiv, Ukraine / U.S. Department of State

New England art is well represented in U.S. embassies around the world. And at least until recently, art from the region was hanging in the embassy at the center of President Trump's impeachment.

From left, Springfield state Rep. Jose Tosado and Holyoke Rep. Aaron Vega in a 2014 interview at The Republican.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Western Massachusetts representation is experiencing another round of change this year. Holyoke state Rep. Aaron Vega said this week he'll leave the House at the end of this term, and Springfield state Rep. Jose Tosado also announced plans to retire. 

The MGM Springfield casino.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

MGM Springfield's Mike Mathis is out. He's been in the mix from just about the beginning, but after the casino posted its worst revenue numbers since opening in August 2018, MGM this week said it's sending him back to Las Vegas.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker delivering a State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 23, 2018.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker lifts the curtain on his budget plan this week. Some tough decisions are expected this time around, with a slowdown in the forecast for tax revenues and big spending on pensions and schools.

"Waiting" by Carl Joe Williams is painted on a twin mattress.
Carl Joe Williams, "Waiting," 2016. Mixed media on mattress. Copyright Carl Joe Williams. 79.5 x 59.5 x 7.5 in. (201.9 x 151.1 x 19.1 cm). / The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, Asbury, NJ PFF 338

"Afrocosmologies: American Reflections," at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, is an exhibit of more than 100 paintings and sculptures that weave a historic, generational story of black American art.

Downtown Athol, Massachusetts.
Domenic Poli / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

In western Massachusetts this week, the Athol Daily News shut its office in town. The paper will still be published, but will be based some 25 miles away in Greenfield. 

A silhouetted figure in a window.
Andrea Belvedere / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/scieck

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is the pronoun “they.”