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Pandemic puts time out on RMWF planning

The hits keep coming for Manitoba’s ag fairs

The historic dome building on the Keystone Centre grounds in Brandon.

COVID-19 has hit pause on yet another ag fair normally put on by the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba.

The exhibition board has suspended planning for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, which typically draws thousands to Brandon’s Keystone Centre for trade shows, horse and cattle exhibits, agricultural education and other entertainment in March, the exhibition announced Nov. 24.

“We are deeply saddened to make this announcement,” the exhibition board said in a release. “However, the health and safety of our community is of utmost importance. The provincial exhibition directors and staff remain dedicated to bring live events back to Brandon, as well as seek other ways to celebrate agriculture and community in a safe and enjoyable way. There will be future events, but until then, we will be looking for your support and generosity.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed all three 2020 fairs normally put on by the exhibition. The 2020 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, Manitoba Summer Fair and Ag Ex were all cancelled in light of health concerns and provincial health orders.

The loss of all three major events this year has put a financial strain on the organization, exhibition president Greg Crisanti said earlier this year. In August, the organization said they expected the economic hit to Brandon from the cancellations to total about $18 million.

The organization has spent the last months attempting to close in on the financial gap  though smaller events, as well as a #SavetheFairs campaign in the hope of drumming up financial support.

About the author

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Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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