The Pacific National Exhibition has been forced to cancel the annual summer fair for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
In a statement, organizers said even a modified, lower-capacity in-person PNE Fair will not be possible in 2021.
“Despite our planning for a number of scalable versions of the PNE Fair, it is now clear that the number of guests required to make an in-person fair financially viable will not be allowed under anticipated Public Health Orders this summer,” PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance said.
“We understand the implications this decision will have on our staff team, our exhibitor and concessionaire partners as well as hundreds of thousands of annual guests, with whom we will look for ways to connect with once informed about what the summertime Health Orders will allow. We are committed to continuing to work with the Provincial Health Office to see what might be possible as the summer progresses.”
PNE management says it is working to see what else might be possible during the summer.
Last year, the PNE hosted a number of drive-thru events, which included mini-doughnuts and the Super Dogs.
CUPE Local 1004 president Andrew Ledger said thousands of the union’s members depend on the fair to pay for post-secondary education or support their families.
Ledger called the cancellation a “massive loss of much-needed employment.”
Last week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, along with the PNE’s executive and the union representing its workers, said the PNE needs $8 million in urgent, emergency aid from the provincial government or is at risk of folding due to the pandemic.
“COVID is unprecedented and the PNE needs our help now,” Stewart said. “Otherwise, and to be frank, we risk losing it.”
The PNE is owned by the city, but operates as an independent non-profit organization and has been excluded from all COVID-19 grants and funding from the provincial and federal governments, PNE president and CEO Shelly Frost said.
— With files from Simon Little and The Canadian Press