Royal Winter Fair cancels 2020 event due to COVID-19

TORONTO – The most prestigious agricultural fair in Canada will not be running in 2020.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, scheduled for Nov. 6 to Nov. 15, has been cancelled this year due to safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to our ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the excitement of The Royal will have to wait for another year,” the board of directors released in a statement yesterday (June 24). “The Royal’s board of directors today (June 24) made the heart-wrenching but unanimous decision to cancel the 2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, originally scheduled for Nov. 6 to 15 at Exhibition Place, Toronto. This treasured annual tradition will return better than ever in 2021.”

“Over the past several months, we’ve all experienced an unprecedented disruption to our daily lives and are redefining how we live, work and play. Ultimately, our decision is grounded in our commitment to help ensure the health and well-being of our community at large,” chief executive officer Charlie Johnstone said. “Our primary responsibility remains rooted in serving our community and protecting the integrity and welfare of all. 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 is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. Each fall, The Royal brings together hundreds of competitors, thousands of animals and hundreds of thousands of guests to celebrate the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competition. During its storied history, The Royal has been cancelled on only one other occasion, during World War II. At that time, the stalls within the historic Royal Horse Palace were transformed into army barracks to house soldiers preparing to be deployed to join Canadian and Allied troops fighting in Europe.

“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,” Johnstone said. “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.”

In addition to The Royal’s Agricultural Food Competitions, which will still take place in 2020, virtual programming designed to engage, educate and motivate is currently being explored for this fall. More details regarding this initiative will be released soon.

“In the meantime, all Canadians are encouraged to continue supporting Canadian farmers, producers and local retailers,” organizers said. “Together we will get through this and ‘Bring the Country to the City’ next Nov. 5 to 14.”

Many West Carleton residents attend The Royal each year and last year Kinburn’s Elm Holme Cattle Company brought home two  championship ribbons from the event.