Following a request made by the Quebec government, the Association des expositions agricoles du Québec (AEAQ) announced on April 10 the cancellation of all agricultural exhibitions for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement may not have come as a surprise, but the impact was felt immediately across the Valley as the sad realization set in that this would be a very quiet summer.
Shortly after the news broke the fairs were cancelled, the board members of the Livestock Breeders Association of the District of Beauharnois (LBA), the non-profit that runs the Desjardins Expo Ormstown, met to break down the impact of cancelling that fair and all other events scheduled for the summer at the fairgrounds. “It was an uplifting meeting,” says LBA president Mark Anderson, who suggests the group shifted right away to talking about 2021. “It’s always sad the Monday after the fair, so we’re just a couple of months early with that feeling,” he adds, noting the board is refusing to dwell on what could have been.
It also helps that marquee sponsors, including Desjardins and the MAPAQ, have guaranteed their funding for 2020 will be continued. “They are a big help,” admits Anderson, noting these funds will allow the organization to keep going as it looks to the future.
Similarly, the board of the Huntingdon Agricultural Society is already looking ahead to 2021, despite not having been able, due to social distancing and technological challenges, to have a meeting to officially cancel the Huntingdon Fair. Board secretary Lynn Ouimet suggests that even without the government decree to cancel the fairs, the summer was looking uncertain. “It’s sad, but people may not have the money or be ready to go,” she says, noting that this way the fair board can save the expenses and move on.
For Havelock Fair, the final decision has not been made, as the board has yet to meet, but the feeling is that it too will be put off for this year. (S.R.)