West Niagara Fair board is grateful for new Ontario government fair funding rules

West Niagara Fair West Niagara Fair. One of the many fairs in Ontario cancelled due to COVID-19.

The West Niagara Fair is in good financial shape, even though COVID-19 forced the shutdown of this year’s event.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors of the West Niagara Agricultural Society, Secretary-Treasurer Anita Philpott, told the Niagara Info, that the Society “is currently in a good financial position and we expect that with continued due diligence during the pandemic situation, and a willingness to make changes in the future, we will be able to carry on.”

Philpott said the board is grateful for a recent support program made available by the Ontario government to all agricultural societies impacted by the cancellation of fairs, exhibitions, and activities due to COVID-19.

Philpott said, “We do not know at this point if our Society will be eligible for the funding.”

Previously, the funding was only available to fairs still operating, but eligibility has been expanded to include all fair organizations affected by fair cancellations.

The West Niagara Fair was scheduled to run the weekend after Labour Day, from Sept 11 to 13. However, it has been cancelled this year.

Ontario government has changed eligibility for fair funding

The provincial funds for fairs were made possible under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act. Regulation 16 of the Act allows for agricultural societies to receive a grant to hold an agricultural exhibition. However, the pandemic has prevented societies from fitting the criteria to do so. Many societies rely on this support, so the government has changed eligibility for the funding to offset this financial loss.

There will be almost $1 million in funding available to qualifying applicants. The provincial funding is designed to help relieve some of the financial burden agricultural societies will face due to these event cancellations, said province officials in a news release.

The Ontario Associations of Agricultural Societies (OASS), reported that 175 fall fairs and events have been cancelled due to COVID-19. Vince Brennan, OAAS Manager, and Charles Freeman, Vice President of the Ontario Horticultural Association, expressed their gratitude for this funding. Both noted that these donations showed the government’s support and appreciation of agricultural and horticultural organizations and communities across Ontario.

Philpott said the board is looking forward to next year’s fair: “As for 2021, we are always planning for our annual fair and that will continue regardless of the current situation.”