TORONTO — The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been iced for a second consecutive year because of pandemic uncertainty in Ontario.
The board of the organization came to the “disheartening decision” July 14 to again cancel the November event in Toronto “after considerable research and consultation.”
“Initially, we were optimistic that we would be able to gather at Exhibition Place this year to celebrate Canadian excellence in food, agriculture and equestrian sport. But as the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 continues to create havoc around the world, it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to host The Royal in a traditional way,” said Charlie Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer at The Royal, in yesterday’s announcement on Facebook.
“Our exhibitors and competitors put everything they’ve got into the pursuit of a championship, and we owe them a world-class showcase for their efforts. We’re simply not in a place to guarantee the stability and assurances necessary to plan their paths forward to compete at an elite level.”
The nixing of the 2021 Royal — billed as the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world — came during the final week of another major Canadian equestrian event that did go ahead as an actual live affair this year: The Calgary Stampede is reported to have drawn about half of its usual number of attendees in its 2021 return.
Organizers of The Royal plan another “education focused online experience” in 2021 but look forward to marking their event’s 100th anniversary in person next year.
“We’re excited to be setting our sights on 2022, which will mark The Royal’s 100th Anniversary,” said Johnstone. “As we approach our second century, The Royal is more relevant than ever, and it is our privilege to be Canada’s home for local food, agricultural and equestrian excellence.”