For the second year in a row, Edmonton’s K-Days summer carnival and exhibition will not go ahead — despite Premier Jason Kenney announcing Alberta is “Open for Summer.”
“Following Premier Kenney’s announcement, we at Northlands took a hard look at whether we could deliver a high-quality event given limited timelines and resources,” a statement from Northlands released Tuesday said.
“Following discussions with the City of Edmonton and Explore Edmonton, Northlands has made the difficult decision that K-Days will not take place this summer.
“Rather than having an event simply to have it in 2021, we want to work with our stakeholders and partners on relaunching K-Days in 2022.”
The news on Tuesday came after repeated requests to Northlands on the fate of the summer fair, which is one of the organization’s two annual events.
It also hosts Farmfair International in November — the future of which is also not certain, though perhaps more optimistic given it is still six months away.
Last week, a Northlands spokesperson would only say they were excited to see Alberta getting back to normal and were working though what Alberta’s “Open for Summer” announcement would mean for K-Days.
While K-Days, the International Street Performers Festival and the Edmonton Folk Musical Festival have all announced they are not going ahead in 2021, other events are, including Taste of Edmonton and Heritage Festival.
“We also recognize that many other signature Edmonton festivals are working towards holding modified versions of their events this summer. By taking K-Days off the schedule, it creates more space for these wonderful festivals to start rebuilding,” the Northlands statement said.
Up until the news broke, the website for the event said it would take place July 23 to Aug. 1 at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
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The news is the latest blow to Northlands: once a large and robust organization that ran the Coliseum hockey and concert arena and Northlands Park Racetrack, along with hosting events throughout the year at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
Now, the racetrack and arena are closed and the Expo Centre is run by Explore Edmonton – a City of Edmonton tourism and venue management organization.
When the Edmonton Oilers moved to Rogers Place and took all major concerts with it, Northlands lost a major source of income.
Then in 2017, the city took over control of the arena and after 43 years in operation, it was officially closed in 2018. Later that year, the racetrack shut down.
All those changes left Northlands with two annual events: K-Days in the summer and Farmfair International, which ran in conjunction with the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR).
Northlands had hosted the rodeo on the site for 44 years until its move to Red Deer when the arena closed. Farmfair went ahead in 2019, but both it and the summer fair were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
While K-Days is cancelled, the Calgary Stampede is set to go ahead in July with several changes to adapt to COVID-19 health measures.
“We want to acknowledge all the hard work our colleagues at the Calgary Stampede have put into reimagining their event for this year,” Northlands said.
“We wish them the very best and we know they will deliver a top-tier event, setting the standard for how to deliver a major event under our current circumstances.”
Northlands is in year four of a five-year land contract with City of Edmonton to continue hosting K-Days on the grounds in central Edmonton, which the city eventually plans to redevelop.
“In terms of 2022 and beyond, Northlands is currently in talks with Explore Edmonton, facilitated by the City of Edmonton, about the future of both K-Days and Farmfair International.
“Everyone involved is deeply committed to finding the best path forward for delivering exciting and sustainable events for years to come.”
The organization thanked the hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers that help deliver K-Days in a normal year: “We know that they will understand why this difficult decision is the right one.”