Some are cancelled, and some are being cautiously planned. The unpredictability of the pandemic and public health restrictions is affecting local agricultural fairs for the second year in a row.
The Vankleek Hill Fair is tentatively scheduled for August 19 to 22.
“We have not made a final decision about the 2021 fair yet. The executives will be meeting again in the near future via zoom to discuss our options,” said Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society President Amanda McDonald, noting public health guidelines will still have to be followed to ensure a safe event. “If there is a fair this year it will be no comparison to what the past fairs have been like.”
In Riceville, fair organizers are cautiously optimistic the fair will still go ahead from August 27 to 29.
“We’re still hopeful,” said Riceville Agricultural Society President Tobias Hovey.
Fair organizers in Riceville are trying to diversify their activities. Hovey said an outdoor barbecue they held in July 2020 – which was limited to 100 tickets – was successful. He said that whatever happens this year will depend on what is permitted under public health restrictions.
The St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society is still planning to hold the Williamstown Fair from August 6 to 8 – beginning to plan what the options are for staging the fair within the limitations of public health restrictions. According to society President Chelsea Hope, a decision will be made in late May on what form this year’s Williamstown Fair will take..
The Williamstown Fair is the oldest annual fair in Canada and was first held in 1812.
Two fairs cancelled
The Maxville Fair, normally held in June, has been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
“Due to the pandemic and the timing of vaccinations, it is not possible to hold our Fair in June,” said Kenyon Agricultural Society Treasurer Vanessa Metcalfe.
The society is closely monitoring public health regulations in the hope the Metcalfe Centre and other facilities at the fairgrounds can open for public rentals once again in the near future.
Metcalfe said the Kenyon Agricultural Society is appreciative of the financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, which agricultural societies have received to cover ongoing costs such as utilities and insurance. Volunteers have been assisting with building and grounds maintenance.
“At this time our finances are stable, but it is everyone’s desire that the facilities become self-sufficient with rental revenue once again,” said Metcalfe.
Québec`s oldest fair, The Expo Lachute Fair has also been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
Argenteuil Agricultural Society President Scott Lees said the group was recently notified by the Québec government that all fairs and festivals across the province will be cancelled this year.
“Unfortunately, it looks like our Lachute Fair will have to wait another year before we can get back to entertaining our community,” Lees said.
The Lachute fair was established 196 years ago.