The Salmon arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association announced Tuesday, Aug. 24, that the 2021 Salmon Arm Fair was being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. (File photo)

The Salmon arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association announced Tuesday, Aug. 24, that the 2021 Salmon Arm Fair was being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. (File photo)

Salmon Arm Fair organizers announce event’s cancellation

Recent pandemic restrictions, safety concerns and timing crunch led to decision

It’s official: the Salmon Arm Fair has been cancelled for 2021.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning, Aug. 24, following a meeting the day prior of the Salmon arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association (SASLAA) and management team.

“It really came down to time,” said fair manager Jim McEwan in a SASLAA media release. “With less than three weeks to go, there’s literally no track left to work with.”

McEwan said a hybrid fair was considered, but there wasn’t enough time to properly organize a limited attendance and virtual event while ensuring the safety of volunteers, exhibitors, fair guests, vendors and entertainers.

The SASLAA announcement came days after B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry rolled the Interior Health region back to Stage 2 of the province’s restart plan, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and an inadequate vaccination rate among residents.

It also came the day after the province announced proof of vaccination would be required for attending events, though that is to start Sept. 13, and the fair was scheduled to run Sept. 10 to 12.

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McEwan said it was a tremendously difficult decision to cancel the community’s signature event a second year in a row.

“But, given the increase in COVID cases in our region, it was the right decision in consideration of the health and safety of our fair community,” said McEwan, still disappointed with having had to make the call so close to the event.

McEwan noted there will be financial implications.

“We’re a lean enough organization that we’ve been able to weather it, but a second year will have an impact.”

SASLAA and McEwan thanked those who have been vaccinated, stressing the “best way for all of us to get through these restrictions and help protect our communities is to roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.”

They also thanked the fair’s sponsors, participants, exhibitors, entertainers, law enforcement, the City of Salmon Arm and food booth vendors for their ongoing support.

“We appreciate very much the understanding and support we have received from everyone during these challenging days,” said McEwan.

Fair organizers will be contacting everyone who purchased advance tickets to arrange refunds, as well as business sponsors to refund their sponsorship. All the attractions, vendors and exhibitors will also be contacted so they can make alternate plans.

This year would have been the 123rd anniversary of the Salmon Arm Fair. Representatives from SASLAA stated they are looking forward to “better times” in 2022 when they hope to hold the fair once again.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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