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Pandemic concerns cancel 2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Event annually serves to showcase Northern ag producers
20191119 royal winter fair wide trina
FedNor annually sponsors a booth at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for Northern Ontario businesses to showcase their products. (Photo courtesy Trina Turl)

A lot of people from Northern Ontario make the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair an autumn tradition.

But not this year.

The ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic means The Royal will have to wait for another year.

On June 24, the Royal’s board of directors made the "heart-wrenching but unanimous decision" to cancel the 2020 fair, originally scheduled for Nov. 6-15 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

“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," said Charlie Johnstone, chief executive officer at The Royal, in a news release.

"Ultimately, our decision is grounded in our commitment to help ensure the health and well-being of our community at large.”

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world.

Each fall, the event brings together hundreds of competitors, thousands of animals, and upwards of 300,000 visitors to celebrate the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competition.

The Northern Ontario Agri-food Pavilion is the largest exhibit at the fair and provides participants from across the North with opportunities to establish new business contacts and expand their businesses.

In 2019, more than 50 Northern Ontario producers were featured at the pavilion.

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.