The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of one of the most eagerly anticipated events in Estevan this year.
The Estevan Exhibition Association’s board of directors announced on May 5 the cancellation of the 2020 Energy City Ex. The decision was made public on the association’s Facebook page.
The Energy City Ex., slated for June 4-7, was to bring Estevan’s Fair and Rodeo together on the same weekend for the first time in more than 20 years. The annual domestics show, the Estevan Sings talent competition, the SMILE Services Parade and other attractions were to be part of the event.
“We know the public is aware that this cancellation was going to take place and we could not officially announce until we were able to arrange a meeting and follow all the necessary steps that need to take place prior to the announcement,” president Tamera Huber wrote in a letter posted to the exhibition association’s Facebook page.
“It was a sombre night when the information was officially recorded into our minutes.”
The board was unanimous in the decision to cancel.
In the initial days of the pandemic, the association held out hope that this marquee community event would still be able to happen. But as the days progressed, they knew a decision would have to happen eventually, but they still needed to arrange a meeting of some type while respecting all government guidelines.
“We had to get a meeting together, and it just wasn’t easy because some of us don’t have technologies to do it. I needed to speak with West Coast Amusements (the midway provider) as well.”
West Coast Amusements, which supplies midways to events throughout Western Canada, has since announced the cancellation of their entire season.
Ride passes and tickets were not on sale as of yet.
The association noted that the public had asked for the fair and rodeo to be held together on the same weekend for many years, and they felt blessed when West Coast Amusements came to the table last year with the news of a four-day midway leading into a weekend.
Huber said the EEA heard so much excitement in the community. People were stepping forward to volunteer to do their part to make it happen.
“I was hearing great things about it. People were excited about it. We spoke with the business community at a chamber of commerce meeting and they were on board with us,” said Huber. “It was going to be a good one. I could picture it all happening, and it’s a shame.”
The fair has been held on weekdays in June for nearly two decades. The rodeo has typically been on the last weekend in August or the first weekend in September since 2011. Prior to that, it was in July.
“The Estevan Exhibition Association midway is what sustains our non-profit organization throughout the year,” Huber wrote.
The City of Estevan was planning to bring in the #Rednek country music festival with Gord Bamford and Jess Moskaluke to Affinity Place on June 6 as part of the Energy City Ex., but that concert has been pushed back to 2021.
Huber hopes the exhibition association can have some sort of an event or a fundraiser later this year. A couple of people have tossed around some ideas for events, such as having a digital version of the domestics art show, which has been one of the long-standing traditions of the fair days.
“We were actually going to have something new this year. We were going to have an agriculture pavilion. We were calling it Farm to Fork. One of our board members had some really great things lined up there. It was all about ag. And education,” said Huber.
It’s been difficult to communicate over Zoom meetings, and get people talking, but there are good ideas out there, she said.
The association also doesn’t want to make plans for the fall and then have to cancel those as well because the government restrictions are still in place.
The coming months will be tough to get through, the association said, just like they will be tough for the entire business community. But Huber is confident the organization, which is more than 100 years old, will survive this setback.