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Updated: January 11, 2021

Best of Business 2021: Events & venues

Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, presided over the 2019 Winter Ball.

Every winter, a who’s who of the Central Mass. business community puts on their finest and gathers – typically, at Mechanics Hall in Worcester – to celebrate and support UMass Memorial Health Care. 

“The way we really look at it is that UMass Memorial is really part of the fabric of the community, and we rely on the community as much as the community relies on us,” said Catheryn McEvoy, vice president of communications at UMMHC Health Care, and a prior co-chair of the event.

A black-tie event, the fundraiser is at once an opportunity to support the hospital network financially as it is a chance for the region's movers and shakers to gather in one space.

In 2020, of course, normal plans for a 450-person gala event were upended, and the event planners switched to a 90-minute virtual program. With donations still trickling in, McEvoy said the event is close to raising $1 million, about half of what it raised in each of the past two years.

Monica Busch


BlueHive Exhibits
Location: Worcester,
Top executive: CEO Paul Hanlon
Founded: 2005
Employees: 97 prior to COVID-19

Traditionally, BlueHive helps clients create engaging environments and in-person experiences for about 1,000 national and international trade shows each year, by offering event management, architectural millwork, and full-service marketing. The coronavirus pandemic changed much of that, but the company is poised to update offerings as need be, particularly for social distancing and other safety measures. 


Apex Entertainment
Location: Marlborough,
Top executive: Chief Operating Officer Marcus Kemblowski
Founded: 2017
Employees: 100

The 100,000-square-foot Apex Entertainment venue offers bowling, go-karts, laser tag, an arcade and the Pit Stop Tavern restaurant. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the venue did all it could to ensure the safety of its staff and customers, offering a safe and welcoming environment.

Notable runners-up: Great Wolf Lodge, Kimball Farm


Polar Park
Location: Worcester,
Owner: City of Worcester
Anticipated opening: April
Estimated cost: $157 million, last updated in January 2021
Tenant: Worcester Red Sox
Top executive: Larry Lucchino, WooSox chairman & principal owner
Baseball club founded: 1970
Club employees: Under 50

First announced in August 2018, the planned Polar Park baseball stadium will coincide with the Pawtucket Red Sox’s move to Worcester in April, seeking to become a community gathering place to harness the excitement around the city’s newest professional sports team. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a curveball and created a steep price to pay to complete the ballpark in 2021. The WooSox demonstrated a commitment to fund overtime shifts and greater costs than imagined. Construction workers dedicated themselves to hard work under new safety and health conditions to stay on schedule.


Beechwood Hotel
Location: Worcester, Massachusetts,
Top executive: Sayed Saleh, asset manager and managing director
Founded: 1989
Employees: 100

Each meeting at the Beechwood Hotel is fully customizable, featuring the latest audio-visual technology, 5G internet speed, and award-winning cuisine. In the era of the coronavirus pandemic, unique meeting room setups comply with the state’s guidelines for safety, including with a large patio for fresh air flow. 


Cyprian Keyes Golf Club
Location: Boylston,
Top executive: General Manager David Frem
Founded: 1997
Employees: Varies by season

Cyprian has long offered a well-conditioned golf course, fair pricing, and strong customer service. As the demand for golf grew in the coronavirus pandemic, the course rented additional carts, added more outdoor seating, and moved the traditional post-outing dinner to a high-end cookout.

Notable runners-up: Worcester Country Club, Tatnuck Country Club


Green Hill Municipal G.C.
Location: Worcester,
Top executive: Matthew Moison P.G.A., director of golf
Founded: 1929
Employees: 30+

Green Hill has a long history of keeping golf affordable, fun and welcoming to all, with well-maintained grounds and outdoor dining on an expansive deck. Even as demand for golf was spiking in the coronavirus pandemic, the course cut its membership rates to adjust for the shorter season and fully refunded all golf leagues.

Notable runners-up: Wachusett Country Club, Cyprian Keyes Golf Club 


Worcester Country Club
Location: Worcester,
Top executive: General Manager Troy Sprister
Founded: 1900

Originally founded as the Worcester Golf Club, the club relocated in 1913 and worked with architect Donald Ross on the design and construction of the 70-par golf course, which opened in 1914. The club hosted the 1925 U.S. Open, 1927 Ryder Cup and 1960 women’s U.S. Open.

Notable runners-up: Tatnuck Country Club, The Haven Country Club


Beechwood Hotel
Location: Worcester, Massachusetts,
Top executive: Sayed Saleh, asset manager and managing director
Founded: 1989
Employees: 100

The Beechwood has always gone above and beyond to ensure the success of every corporate event. The coronavirus pandemic offered new challenges, but the Beechwood events team brought new solutions to help each event stand out while adhering to all safety regulations.

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