There will be no Fall Fair and BCRA Rodeo Finals on the Labour Day weekend in Barriere this year.
On Sunday, May 10, the Executive and Board of Directors of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association announced that their 71st annual event scheduled for the September long weekend has been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We knew that a decision had to be made,” said NTFFRA president Jill Hayward, “We all love our historic and traditional fall fair and rodeo, and we also recognize how important it is to everyone involved. Our Association takes the threat of COVID-19 very seriously, and from the beginning of this coronavirus appearing we have been committed to making the right decision to not in anyway jeopardize the health of our members, volunteers, exhibitors, vendors, fairgoers, and our community at large.”
Hayward said they also recognize how vital the resulting economic boost provided by this annual event is for area businesses, service organizations, the town of Barriere, and also the region.
“We are well aware of what the overall impact due to the loss of this major 2020 event in the North Thompson means,” said Hayward, “Not just in terms of entertainment, but also in terms of the financial loss that will be felt by many who rely on income generated as a result of our Fair.”
When the B.C. government announced last week the province’s Four Phase Plan for getting back to ‘a new normal’, Hayward says that for the NTFFRA board there was no longer any point in waiting to make a decision regarding the Fair.
“B.C.’s Four Phase plan requires there will be no hosting of rock concerts, conventions, concerts, parades, large sporting events, or any other large gatherings beyond 50 people until there is a vaccine (not expected until sometime next year), treatments for COVID-19, or community immunity has been achieved,” noted Hayward, “Our decision did not come lightly, but it was the right decision made in the best interests of public health and safety.”
Asked how the association will manage without annual income from the fair, Hayward stated, “We actually make most of our income from renting out our fairground facilities including the North Thompson Agriplex, to private users and events. All of the annual rental income is then used to cover the cost of our hydro, water, Telus, insurance, and all the things you can’t do without on a monthly basis. Anything that’s left over then goes to facility maintenance and improvements. Some years the Fall Fair makes money, sometimes it breaks even, and we have had a few years if the weather is really bad or there are a lot of smoky wildfires around when it has gone in the hole. That’s why the facility rentals are so important. That money keeps the fairgrounds running, in shape, and provides a facility for the annual Fall Fair and Rodeo.”
She commented that on average some 225 events are held annually at the NTFFRA’s 27 acre facility.
“So far this year rental income is down by 60 per cent from event cancellations due to the pandemic, and at this point I am sure it will be at least 90 per cent by the end of the year,” said Hayward.”This means our income will be down approximately $60,000, and there will be no possibility for income generated by Fall Fair this year.”
How will the organization manage without an income?
“COVID-19 has managed to kick the rug out from under us this year, but we will survive, and so will North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo events. We will definitely be putting our heads together on how to raise funds,” said Hayward, “We will be looking after what we have, keeping a tight budget, and continue to move forward with creative thinking, sound planning and decision making.”
The annual North Thompson Fall Fair was created in 1949 by a number of pioneer families and individuals to give children from the area a venue to achieve with their 4H livestock projects. This historic event has taken place every year since 1950 except for a forced cancellation in 2003 due to the McLure Wildfire which Happen on July 31, only a few weeks before the Fall Fair was scheduled to take place, devastating homes, businesses, and much of the area.