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Armstrong IPE cancelled for second year due to COVID-19 pandemic

Safety concerns have prompted the IPE to cancel the 2021 event. File Photo/ Global News

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to claim major events despite the continued promise of vaccines in British Columbia.

Organizers of the Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) in Armstrong have cancelled the 2021 fair due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

“The continued uncertainty surrounding COVID, particularly with the emerging COVID-19 variants, left the board of directors with the heartbreaking decision to postpone the IPE another year,” said IPE president Heather King.

Planning for the late-summer event usually begins well in advance, forcing the board’s hand.

Read more: Junior hockey: Positive COVID-19 test for Kelowna Rockets, WHL suspends team’s activities

Despite vaccines being rolled out, King said they couldn’t guarantee the safety of guests, vendors, exhibitors and staff in August.

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“It’s another sad day,” Armstrong mayor Chris Pieper told Global News upon hearing that this year’s event has been postponed until 2022. “The IPE is an extremely huge part of our community.”

The IPE has a huge economic impact on the North Okanagan town. The event draws tens of thousands of people and their spending money to the area, and has been doing so for more than 100 years, according to the mayor.

Pieper estimates the fair brings in more than $5 million annually to the community, which helps support not only businesses, but charities as well.

“That’s a pile of money back into the community. That’s everything,” the mayor said.

“It’s huge for Armstrong and Spallumcheen, but also the whole North Okanagan and South Okanagan and Kamloops.”

Click to play video: '2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic' 2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic
2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic – May 4, 2020

Pieper said the losses can’t be blamed on anyone, as the pandemic has impacted everyone.

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“We have exhibitors from all over British Columbia,” said Pieper. “When you take the rodeo into consideration, we have international competitors and it’s just a great show and we’re truly going to miss it again this year.”

During the hiatus, IPE organizers will review several elements of the fair, including competitive divisions, grounds layout and entertainment, according to King.

Click to play video: '2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic' 2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic
2020 IPE cancelled due to pandemic – May 4, 2020

“We will also keep close attention to the vaccine rollout and changing public health landscape with the hopes of being able to host some mini-events this fall,” King said.

The mayor said the community will just have to plow through another year without the fair and plan for a big celebration in 2022.

“We’ll have a party when we can have a party,” Pieper said.

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