This year’s Petrolia Enniskillen Fall Fair has been cancelled.
Ironically, it comes the same day as the largest fair in Ontario – the Canadian National Exhibition – announced it wouldn’t have an event this year either.
Demi Krall, president of the Petrolia Enniskillen Agricultural Society, says it was the only decision the board could make since it isn’t clear how long the restrictions for public gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place.
“It just doesn’t leave us a lot of time if the government decides in the end of August that we can have it or we can’t,” she says.
“And it is hard to come up with the sponsorship money that we need to run the fair when all the businesses are hurting…We don’t want to go to them when we know they are hurting financially.”
Justin Richards, the past president of the Petrolia Enniskillen Agricultural Society, says it was a tough decision, but the right one.
“You could see (during the video conference Monday where the event was cancelled) that some of us were disappointed, but we have to look out for the health of our volunteers and the health of our community.”
Krall says the financial fall out from cancelling now won’t be as bad as if they had waited until late summer to stop the show. She says many of the businesses and entertainers the board is dealing with are being “really good and working with us, giving us our deposits back and letting us reschedule for 2021.”
Krall says the fair board will likely hold some fundraisers this winter to help cover the costs of upkeep on the grounds and building it owns
The Petrolia Fair regularly meets with other fair boards in their districts and she says many are struggling with the decision, particularly those with fairs later in the fall.
But she says when she heard the CNE wouldn’t open this year, she knew Petrolia had done the right thing. “If the biggest one is cancelled, it would be silly for us to have ours,” she says.
But that doesn’t make it any easier.
“We look forward to this every year and we plan for it all year. It’s hard to say it is cancelled.”