Summer festivals for 2020 in London, Ont., in limbo due to coronavirus pandemic

The 24th annual London Pride Parade goes Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The 24th annual London Pride Parade goes Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Jaclyn Carbone/980 CFPL

Like many during the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of London’s summer festivals are rethinking their current plans.

During a daily media briefing Ed Holder, Mayor of London said he met with festival organizers this week and that come Monday, more information would available.

Andrew Rosser, president of the Pride London Festival, said they are moving Pride celebrations online this year.

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“It’s not going to be a normal Pride festival and people are going to have to adjust expectations, but the silver lining is creating a virtual experience can be a lot cheaper.”

Rosser said going online would also open up the opportunity to engage with a broader audience.

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“Regardless of what restrictions are lifted, it’s unrealistic to think thousands of people will gather in Victoria Park,” Rosser said.

“It will be a slow process getting through this.”

A global 24-hour Pride event is set for June 27 and the annual Pride London Festival will take place from July 16 to the 25.

Rosser said they will still have events happening every day, adding depending on restrictions, there may be an opportunity for some in-person events.

More information is available on the group’s website or the events Facebook page.

Other events, like those run by Family Shows Canada, are a little more undetermined.

The company runs the London Children’s Festival, London Food & Craft Beer, and London Ribfest & Craft Beer as wells as two other festivals in Chatham and Niagara.

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“So far, we believe the only one that’s going to survive this cut is London Ribfest at the end of the season, so we will have to decide on whether that is reasonable or even doable,” Doug Hillier, President of Family Shows Canada said.

He said even if they cannot run anything this season, they will survive but added their main concern is for the vendors.

The company operates five festivals in total throughout the summer, and each event hosts between 75 to 150 vendors, not including the 45 bands already booked for London Ribfest.

Ribfest kicked off Thursday in Victoria Park and runs through to Monday.
Ribfest kicked off Thursday in Victoria Park and runs through to Monday. 980 CFPL file photo

“We are very proud of what we do and are very sad when we can’t help the people that we help every year,” Hillier said.

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Other events like the London Fringe Festival have opted to postpone until fall. The Festival has rescheduled for Sept. 22 to Oct. 3 with more details to come.

The Home Country Folk League said on its website that they are closely monitoring the situation but have yet to decide whether the Home Country Music and Art Festival set to take place from July 17 to 19 in Victoria Park will continue.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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