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Virtual Western Fair to see augmented reality app, online contests, delivery boxes

A portion of the midway of the 144th Western Fair on its opening night on Sept.  6, 2019.
A portion of the midway of the 144th Western Fair on its opening night on Sept. 6, 2019. Jacquelyn LeBel/980 CFPL

Western Fair organizers are starting to outline exactly how the fair will go virtual this year as some restrictions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic remain in place.

Back in May, the Western Fair Association’s board of governors and management team announced that, for the first time since World War II, the Western Fair would be cancelled. However, the board said it was working on a “virtual Western Fair.”

Read more: London, Ont.’s 2020 Western Fair cancelled due to coronavirus

Details of the virtual Western Fair are starting to trickle out. The virtual fair will run the same days that the physical fair was initially scheduled — Sept. 11-20, 2020 — and will rely on augmented reality (A.R.) technology “which will present guests with a real environment that has been enhanced or altered by computer-generated information (CGI).”

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“Throughout the Fair’s traditional ten-day run fairgoers who download a special A.R. app will have the opportunity to experience a number of different A.R. adventures tied to long established fair themes like animals, agriculture, food, local entertainment, midway fun, creative competitions and much more,” organizers said in a statement.

The free app, called Engage, is being developed by local EXAR Studios and is expected to be ready for download by Aug. 31. Further updates will be made available on the fair’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and website.

Some virtual content is already live, including a selection of online Creative Arts competitions and summer contests, Rise2Fame youth talent video submissions, and Virtual Agri-Food School Tour registrations.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Horse racing returning to London, Leamington

Organizers say they will also be working to make fair food accessible during the virtual event.

Fair Food Boxes can be delivered “right to your door” starting Sept. 12, while a sampling of some fair décor and food and beverage will be available at a Park It At The Market event on Sept. 16 called Taste of the Fair, and an online shopping page is also being developed in which “longtime fair food vendors will share links to promote and support their businesses and products.”

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