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Cancelling the Barrie Fair, a 167-year tradition, 'not an easy decision'

'It may seem far off, but this event has a lot of moving pieces and people who need time to invest in the fair,' says GM

The 2020 edition of the Barrie Fair has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The event was scheduled to run Aug. 27-30 at the Essa Agriplex near Thornton, but general manager Ryan Johnson said the decision needed to be made now.

“It may seem far off, but this event has a lot of moving pieces and people who need time to invest in the fair,” Johnson told BarrieToday.

“It was not an easy decision," he added, "but with every government report that comes out, it seems less and less likely.”

The fair was set to celebrate 167 years this summer and the event usually attracts hundreds of people over the course of the weekend to see the many farm animals, horse shows, midway rides and the popular demolition derby. 

Johnson said he wasn’t just concerned with the virus itself, but how society may look after this peak of the pandemic is over.

“There are so many uncertainties involved with the whole thing,” he said. “One concern is what businesses will make it through this in order to help sponsor.

"Of course, there is the idea that people won’t have the money to attend events after this," Johnson added. "Financially, it may not be doable for families.”

Johnson wasn’t able to say how or if this cancellation may affect future events.

“I can’t sit here and say that 2021 is a sure thing; we had a lot of momentum coming out of this past year. No one can predict what people will want to do after this is all over,” he said. “That said, if something happens where we are able to do something for our guests who enjoy an event in the summer, we will definitely look at that. 

“It wouldn't be the size and scale of the Barrie Fair people are used to, but if we can safely get people out, we can look at that.”

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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