London, November 17, 2020 – In what is now a familiar story across the event industry, the Western Fair Association (WFA) one of the oldest agricultural societies in Ontario, lost all of its traditional shows and events following March 2020, in support of the worldwide fight against COVID-19. Many in the industry had hoped to be operating again by the end of 2020, but this was not to be.
The present-day realities of growing pandemic case counts, provincial health guidelines restricting trade shows, continued closure of the US/Canada border, and the fact that the Western Fair District Agriplex, which traditionally houses large shows and events, continues to be at-the-ready as a temporary COVID19 hospital, makes the fast-approaching 2021 Winter/Spring show season impossible to deliver. After much discussion, surveys, and exploration of alternate options and models, the Association has made the difficult decision to forego its upcoming show season.
As a result, the London Wine & Food Show, London Farm Show, National Poultry Show, Speed & Custom Show, Home & Outdoor Show, and London Beer & BBQ Show will not take place in 2021. Organizers of the LHBA Lifestyle Home Show, London RV Show and London Boat Show have also cancelled their events at the District for 2021.
“The decision to cancel our owned and operated shows through the end of June reflects the current realities we are individually and collectively dealing with.” Reg Ash, CEO, Western Fair Association. “The series of winter and spring events that our communities have supported for many years, and in some instances, decades are taking a break in 2021 for the health and safety of those very communities. We look forward to celebrating together when conditions permit,” said Ash.
The pandemic realities have been challenging for businesses of all kinds but it has also made creative thinkers and innovation pioneers out of many. As the possibility of another lost event season became more-and-more of a reality, WFA Board, management and staff were motivated to take inventory of resources and facilities and began reimagining a new digital model that respected our renewed commitment to agriculture and food, met the needs of our valued stakeholders and was somewhat pandemic-proof.
Part of the reimagined offering for 2021 will include a new video production space to host speakers and live demonstrations in a Ted Talk-style format, aimed at promoting a wide variety of topics and interests. Production and streaming abilities have been honed over many years through the Association’s live racing shows. A new space will provide the ability to host small interactive live studio audience experiences, paired with local food, culinary, sommelier and cicerone sessions, urban gardening, agri-food and agri-tech vlogs, education forums and business to business broadcasts. A number of these offerings are expected to launch early in the new year when more information on this exciting new initiative is unveiled.
“Our dedicated and passionate team is expanding on the successes of our earlier virtual content and has been working on ways to repackage and deliver some of our perennial favourites while maintaining our commitment to agri-food and education. The online series represents the collision of our traditional events + The Grove + digital programming and is another step toward updating our core mandate as a progressive 21st century agricultural society,” said Ash.
Western Fair District wishes to acknowledge the communities we serve and all those who have continued to support the Association throughout these tough times and the many who have worked with us on all these events in the past, you are missed and we look forward to brighter days ahead. In the meantime, we look forward to connecting with our community partners, sponsors, exhibitors, and stakeholders to share new opportunities within our on-site digital content streaming platform.
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