The oldest agricultural fair in North America will move to a modified format in 2021 to safely operate within public health protocols.
In March, the Exhibition Association of Nova Scotia announced that all traditional “in-person” fairs and exhibitions in Nova Scotia would be cancelled again in 2021 due to COVID-19. Individual fairs could go forward with scaled down events meeting public health protocols.
A traditional Hants County Exhibition welcomes roughly 30,000 visitors annually from all over the Maritime provinces, making it a large contributor to the local Valley economy. While the impact of Covid-19 has created a challenging situation, directors of the Windsor Agricultural Society hope this modified event will strengthen community ties and give competitors and fairgoers something to look forward to.
“Hants County Exhibition is a valued and much anticipated tradition in our community for people of all ages. Current indoor gathering limits require working in approved smaller zones and sessions to meet Phase 4 restrictions. That means not all aspects of a traditional exhibition can be included in 2021,” explains Ryan Knowles, president of the Windsor Agricultural Society. “We know there will be disappointment for some if their favourite event or show is not included, but we hope our community will rally around our best efforts to go forward in our 256thyear, even if this year’s event will look a bit different than what we are used to.”
The main modified fair will operate within the September 17-19 and 24-26 dates set aside for the traditional fair, with some events working outside of these dates. The emphasis will be fun, family-friendly agricultural fair programming on Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon sessions. Equine events such as gymkhana (MBRA) and hunter/jumper classes will keep the arena busy. Evening Exhibition arena performances with the top competition classes and musical entertainment are expected to be sold separately. The Truck and Tractor Pull is scheduled for September 18. HCEx Ox Pulls are scheduled for August 28 with a full afternoon and evening of great competition. The uncertainty of planning will keep East Coast Amusements close to home in New Brunswick throughout September, with plans to be back in Windsor in 2022.
Movement into Phase 5 prior to the fair will hopefully mean more fairgoers will be permitted to enjoy the show.
“You don’t get to be the oldest continuously running exhibition in North America without adjusting to meet challenging times, something the agricultural community knows well” added Knowles, “We hosted a virtual fair in 2020, and while we are unable to go forward with a complete exhibition, our modified event will be a positive step in the right direction towards a full-fledged 257th Hants County Exhibition in 2022.”
As more details unfold, especially those relating to the impact of the easing of restrictions in Phase 5, they will be posted to Hants County Exhibition’s website (hantscountyex.com) and shared on social media sites. Those interested in vendor opportunities at the New Oldest Fair are asked to get in touch. The public is encouraged to enter the vegetable, homecraft, and art competitions. Prizes will be offered! Homecraft, art, flower and vegetable/fruit prize lists are complete and all other event prize lists are being finalized.