COVID-19 forces Canadian National Exhibition to cancel 2020 fair

The Canadian National Exhibition has cancelled its 2020 event, marking the first time since the Second World War that Canada’s largest fair will not be held.

The annual fair had been scheduled to run from Aug. 21 to Sep. 7 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

“Safety always comes first at the CNE, and the decision to cancel our event is the right decision during this critical time to protect the health of all Canadians,” said John Kiru, president of the Canadian National Exhibition Association, in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity with the collective effort to curb this global pandemic, and we will all do our part to ensure it happens.”

Kiru said the decision to cancel the CNE was made on May 7 in collaboration with provincial and municipal governments.

The Canadian International Air Show has also cancelled its 2020 show, which typically takes place on Labour Day weekend during the final three days of the CNE.

“These are some of the sacrifices that we’re facing as a society,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford at a Tuesday news conference.

“We all grew up there,” said Ford, as he recounted long days spent at the CNE when he was a young man. “I’m going to miss it.”

The annual fair is known for its carnival rides, outrageous food and a wide variety of live shows. It has been a staple of Toronto summers nearly every year since its first edition in 1879.

The CNE says the event generates $128 million to the Ontario economy each year and attracts 1.4 million visitors.

The event also helps employ more than 5,000 seasonal workers during its run.

The fairgrounds were converted to a military training and recruitment centre from 1942 to 1945. The event remained closed in 1946 to allow the military to move out.

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