Western Fair to make full, in-person return for 2022

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

After two years of cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, London’s iconic Western Fair will go ahead as planned this year, fair officials announced Wednesday.

The 2022 edition of the fair, set to run Sept. 9 to 18, will mark the first time since 2019 that the fair has been held in person at the Western Fair District, complete with rides, entertainment, vendors, agriculture and more.

“It makes me pretty happy to be able to share the news with you. Our team has been excited and planning to stage the return of this fall favourite,” said Reg Ash, CEO of the Western Fair District.

Western Fair officials say the theme of this year’s fair will be Happy Days, which Ash says is a nod to what many in the event industry are now feeling after two years of pandemic closures and restrictions.

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Details on entertainment, rides and vendors will be made available in the coming months, Ash says, noting that contracts are still being finalized. The midway provider that has been involved with the Western Fair since 2014, North American Midway Entertainment, will return, he said.

“The ride list hasn’t been confirmed yet, so I can’t get into those details, and we’re working through contract terms with several of our entertainment offerings that we had planned to have in 2020,” he said.

Officials have also unveiled details of the creative arts competitions set to run during the fair. Details can be found on the Western Fair website.

FILE – Midway rides light up the night sky of the Western Fair in London, Ont., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007. Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press Images

Tickets for the fair went on sale Tuesday, with $10 early bird tickets available until June 1 for those aged 11 to 69. Children 10 and under, and seniors 70 and older, can get in for free, organizers say.

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Advance tickets will run for $12 from June 2 to Sept. 8, and tickets at the gate will cost $15 for the duration of the fair, a price unchanged from 2019.

“There’s a lot of upward pressure on everybody, and nobody is immune to that…. Everyone is facing pressures at home with rising costs of everything, and the one thing that we could control was our gate admission,” Ash said.

Super passes, which include one admission and one ride all day bracelet, will run $40, and can only be purchased until Sept. 8.

The fair is also set to run two-for-one gate admissions during the fair, running Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., along with some other promotions, including “bounce back coupons” that will be given out to each paid admission, entitling attendees a return visit for only $5.

“The last two years have been a lot of start and stop, a lot of planning and then cancelling as we thought we’d have opportunities at certain stages to reintroduce events and then learn otherwise,” Ash said.

“We’re fairly confident in this announcement that we will be running a fair in September. It’s an outdoor event primarily, so I think we can provide a safe and comfortable experience for everybody that chooses to come to the fair.”

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The cancellation of the fair in 2020 marked the first time since the Second World War that the fair ceased operation. Virtual events and some in-person offerings were made available in its place and in 2021. The fair itself has been held since 1868, Ash says.

Those looking to serve as exhibitor, sponsor, vendor or volunteer are asked to contact the Western Fair District.

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