The PNE Fair cancelled for 2021
The PNE Fair has been cancelled for the 2021 season.
On Wednesday morning, the announcement was made by organizers at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), who say that “even a modified, lower capacity in-person” event would be impossible.
In addition to the current health and safety guidelines surrounding the pandemic, the organization says that financial viability was a determining factor.
“Despite our planning for a number of scalable versions of the PNE Fair, it is not clear that the number of guests required to make an in-person Fair financially viable will not be allowed under anticipated Public Health Orders this summer,” says PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance.
Thank you for your unwavering support of our 9500 direct & indirect team members. This is a sad day for so many people who rely on the @PNE_Playland for university tuition or for family income. From red seal trades to low barrier employment, the PNE plays a key role in our region https://t.co/YAVBn8EIbP
— Laura Ballance (@LauraBallance) May 5, 2021
“We understand the implications this decision will have on our staff team, our exhibitor and concessionaire partners, as well as hundreds of thousands of annual guests, with whom we will look for ways to connect with once informed about what the summertime Health Orders will allow.”
Organizers add that they’re “committed” to working with BC health officials to “see what might be possible as the summer progresses.”
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The PNE, the largest employer of youth in the province, is responsible for 4,300 direct jobs and 9,500 indirect jobs every year. They also generate $200 million in regional economic impact per year.
Cancellation of the Fair comes shortly after organizers announced that the PNE is $8 million in debt and forecasted to be up to $15 million in debt by the end of the year.
Last week, the PNE and the City of Vancouver requested a financial “lifeline” from the provincial government, in order to weather the current fallout.
As a non-profit organization, PNE President and CEO Shelly Frost says that they continue “to be excluded from all grants and funding” provided to other tourism entities by the federal and provincial government.
Frost also stressed that it would take approximately a decade and a half to recover from debt without financial assistance.
Playland, located at the PNE fairgrounds, was initially scheduled to open before the end of April. The opening day was delayed, however, following backlash amid gathering and travel restrictions. Opening day is now scheduled for sometime after the May long weekend.
With files from Eric Zimmer