Organizers of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair say they are planning to move forward with an in-person event this November after moving the festivities online due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
In a news release, organizers said the board of directors for the fair voted unanimously in favour of a plan to proceed with in-person festivities at this year’s event, which is scheduled to run from Nov. 5 to Nov. 14 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.
“The Royal will heed all regulations from the Ministry of Health to create a safe and secure environment in which to showcase Canada’s Royal Champions,” the news release read.
“With more than two hundred agriculture, equestrian and food competitions, The Royal remains steadfast in our commitment to deliver a ‘Best in Class’ experience for all those who compete, exhibit, and participate in, this quintessential Canadian tradition. We look forward to celebrating their successes in person this November.”
Charlie Johnstone, the fair's CEO, said modifications will obviously need to be made to create a safe environment for those attending this year.
"Whether that is capping the number of people on site at any given time, physical restrictions, spacing out the layout, all of those things, that is what we are working on right now," he told CP24 on Wednesday.
"We will really be looking at best practices from around the world, frankly, and other large scale events and festivals to make sure we are making the best possible environment for all of those that come to the Royal."
He said the decision to proceed with an in-person event was made now to ensure all of those involved have adequate time to prepare.
"We really needed to give guidance to everyone that competes and particulates and plans and trains for the Royal every year. We have thousands of people competing," he said.
"We thought it was very important to let them know, all things considered, considering everything that is happening, our intention is to run a full, physical fair this November at Exhibition Place."
Every major event and festival in the city, including the annual Pride parade and the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, was either cancelled or held virtually in 2020 amid the global pandemic and many of those events will likely have to proceed online once again this year as Canadians wait to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
In January, Mayor John Tory said he is hopeful that some events this summer can proceed but noted that it will depend on how well we are doing to control the spread of the virus.
“I think things will be getting better by the summer, I certainly hope they will,” Tory said last month. “But will they be better enough that we can have the crowd scenes that some of the events entail?”
On Wednesday, city officials announced that all major events and parades have been cancelled through July 1, including the Pride Parade and Canada Day celebrations.