A large crowd gathered for Demolition Derby on Saturday at the Abbotsford Agrifair. (Abbotsford News/ John Morrow)

A large crowd gathered for Demolition Derby on Saturday at the Abbotsford Agrifair. (Abbotsford News/ John Morrow)

Abbotsford Agrifair a success as first local in-person fair under new health guidelines

‘I looked out at the crowd and it looked like a normal crowd, says fair manager

Abbotsford Agrifair was the first large, local public event to be held under the new provincial orders, and it was a resounding success.

Between 16,000 and 18,000 people passed through the gates from Friday to Sunday over the long weekend, said Graham Vanstone, fair manager. That’s about 50 per cent of their usual attendance, but tickets were limited this year due to the pandemic. And while the numbers were smaller than the past, the feeling of community was as big as ever.

Vanstone says it was late in the planning game when organizers realized they could hold an in-person fair, after having had to cancel last year’s due to COVID-19 concerns.

But there was a moment – at the Saturday demolition derby – when he knew all the last-minute work was worth it.

“I looked out at the crowd and it looked like a normal crowd,” he said. “People were laughing and enjoying themselves, and that was the best moment.”

The Agrifair looked different this year to those in recent years. All booths had to have 10 feet of space around them. There were health and safety ambassadors on site to answer questions and remind people to physically distance themselves.

But there were all the trappings of a regular fair, including high-flying motorcycle stunts, midway rides, and the all-important 4H competitions.

“It was so good to see kids, some of them for the first time, enjoying the rides,” Vanstone said. And while the 4H was smaller this year, as fewer kids raised animals through the pandemic, the competitions went ahead.

It was the first in-person fair in the local circuit, and Vanstone is looking forward to seeing others succeed as well, including the upcoming Chilliwack Fair.

“It’s amazing,” Vanstone said. “As someone who has been in event industry for 20-plus years, it was a great pleasure to welcome people, in person, and watch them enjoy what we pulled together in days.”

READ MORE: NYC will require COVID vaccination proof for indoor dining, gyms


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The Abbotsford Agrifair was one of the first local fairs to go ahead, under easing provincial health restrictions. (Abbotsford News/ John Morrow)

The Abbotsford Agrifair was one of the first local fairs to go ahead, under easing provincial health restrictions. (Abbotsford News/ John Morrow)