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  • Writer's pictureCAFE

Canada's fairs and exhibitions at risk of closing forever due to COVID pandemic

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

March 25, 2020 – CAFE is calling on the federal government to provide specific funding for the fair and exhibition industry, including support for agricultural societies, seasonal entertainers, vendors and suppliers.

The Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) is extremely worried for the future of Canada’s century-old non-profit organizations that are already facing significant challenges. There are more than 700 agricultural societies, fairs and exhibitions across Canada, many of which are pillars of their community and its economy.

“Our industry is in a unique position. Every day this pandemic continues, and mass gatherings are cancelled, is another day that cuts into our short season,” says Amanda Frigon, President of CAFE, “there will be no chance of recovery as more and more events get cancelled.”

The season generally runs from May to October and so unlike other businesses and non-profits, these organizations will not have a chance to rebuild their resources once the pandemic is determined to be over. Not only will the organizations who run these events be unable to recover, but the same can be said for hundreds of Canadian service providers including entertainers, vendors and concessionaires who are otherwise ineligible for many of the federal measures already announced in relation to the impact of COVID-19.

“The health and safety of Canadians is of the utmost importance, and we are in full support of the governments announced initiatives” says Frigon, “but we are urgently asking that the government ensure that our industry isn’t an ‘unintended consequence’ or overlooked as part of the Government’s economic response to COVID-19 ’”.

If these organizations shut down, this will hurt rural economies, agricultural education and the ability to build public trust in agriculture. It will also negatively impact civic engagement, community development and community engagement in Canada.

“Even after mass gatherings are again permitted, we are seriously concerned about the decreasing consumer confidence in the safety of mass gatherings, and so look to the government for support in rebuilding this confidence. By providing federal funding we can help rebuild our communities and it will give our industry the opportunity to bring those communities together again and to celebrate after theses challenging days” says Frigon.

CAFE is urging the federal government to give serious consideration to our industry and to allot targeted funding for fairs, exhibitions, agricultural societies and their service providers. The risk is very real that without federal support that these fairs and agricultural societies could risk closing forever.

The harsh reality is the impact of this pandemic puts the viability of our industry at risk and therefore puts rural communities at risk as well.

For more information Christina Franc, Executive Director 800-663-1714

About CAFE The Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions is a registered charity, which represents about 700 fairs and agricultural societies across Canada. CAFE is committed to fostering excellence through innovative leadership with partners and key stakeholders, providing meaningful resources, collaborating to increase national awareness and ensuring a sustainable future for the fair and event industry. The Canadian fair and exhibition industry sees more than 30 million visitors each year, with an average economic impact of $1 billion on local communities, the majority of those being rural.

Canadian fairs and exhibitions have been a substantial and integral part of the fabric of Canadian life for centuries and many have been in existence prior to Canada’s confederation. These time-tested fairs and exhibitions are premiere Canadian events that established and continue to maintain our national identity.

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