LONDON — COVID-19 and Ontario’s slow and uncertain removal of pandemic restrictions have again kiboshed the London Farm Show.
Organizers “regretfully” confirmed the cancellation in a Jan. 24 press release. It’s the third consecutive time the annual 80-plus year tradition has been canned due to uncertainty over pandemic restrictions in Ontario.
“Though the government announced January 20th that public health measures and restrictions would begin to be cautiously and gradually eased over the next few months if Omicron infections continued to trend downward, current restrictions still pose a very tight timeline to host a successful show of this size,” says the release on the Western Fair District/Association website.
“With feedback from our valued show exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees, and the extended operation of the Agriplex as a vaccination centre, the decision to cancel this year’s event was necessary.”
The Western Fair Association (WFA) reports “great excitement” last summer as the planning and coordination of the 2022 show season got underway. Management eagerly anticipated getting back to business in 2022 and the London Farm Show would have kicked off the show season, as well as the growing season.
“A strong roster of returning exhibitors were booked for 2022, with many new products, demonstrations, and competitions planned,” WFA Agriculture Events Manager Bridget Mahon said. All exhibitors for the 2022 Farm Show will receive a full refund of their booth fees, along with the Association’s sincere thanks for everyone’s continued support.
“It is never easy to make these decisions, and we appreciate the understanding of our exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees as we navigate yet another year inside a pandemic,” WFA CEO Reg Ash said. “We thank our staff for the time committed to prepare for this much-anticipated show and for the continued loyalty, kindness and understanding, during these times, of all who participate and support the event.”
While there are no plans for a virtual show, Mahon says the organization will launch a #Plant22 Snack Box — featuring local locally-sourced treats like nuts, cookies, craft beer and beef jerky — “to keep producers fueled as they head into the fields this spring.” The boxes go on sale at londonfarmshow.com in early March.
The London Farm Show now plans to return March 8-10, 2023.
“We are so disappointed to be in the same situation as last year, but we are eagerly anticipating next year for good reason,” said Mahon, “so many we spoke to as we evaluated our options, expressed how excited they had been for the show’s return and in the same breath, their disappointment that they would not be able to attend this year. We hope with that same anticipation we see every farmer in Southwestern Ontario at the show in 2023.”