Royal Agricultural Winter Fair cancelled due to COVID-19

TORONTO – Organizers have cancelled this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, but promise it will return “better than than ever in 2021.”

The fair, this year scheduled for Nov. 6 to 15 at Exhibition Place, is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world.

It annually draws thousands of visitors from across the province and beyond, including many Wellington County participants in its agriculture, food and equestrian competitions.

“The Royal,” as it has become known, is the latest in an ever-growing list of events to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ultimately, our decision is grounded in our commitment to help ensure the health and well-being of our community at large,” stated fair CEO Charlie Johnstone in a June 24 press release.

“Our primary responsibility remains rooted in serving our community and protecting the integrity and welfare of all.”

He added, “We understand and appreciate the time, effort and financial commitment required to compete and exhibit at The Royal and did not make this decision without very careful consideration.”

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was cancelled only once previously, during the Second World War, when horse stalls were transformed into barracks to house soldiers preparing to be deployed to Europe.

Officials say the fair’s agricultural food competitions will still take place in 2020, and they are looking into virtual programming “designed to engage, educate and motivate.”

“During these uncertain times, we’re heartened by the resilience of farmers, the ingenuity of entrepreneurs, and the abundance of care shown towards family, friends and animals,” concluded Johnstone.

“As we lead up to our 100th anniversary celebrations in 2022, we take comfort knowing that the 2021 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be, as always, an outstanding experience for all those who compete, exhibit and attend.”

The 2021 fair is set for Nov. 5 to 14.