With so much of Abbotsford in a state of uncertainty thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers for some of the biggest annual local events still seem cautiously optimistic that their gatherings later this year will move forward.
A decision by the City of Abbotsford to cancel or postpone all gatherings of over 50 people in civic facilities and parks for the time being still stands, but the ban does not yet have an end date.
The City originally set a date to cancel or postpone all gatherings over 50 people until Sept. 1, but that was then removed and it was stated that they will be cancelled or postponed until further notice.
The Abbotsford International Airshow, scheduled to run from Aug. 7 to 9, is set to celebrate its 58th year in 2020 and regularly draws tens of thousands of fans. Last year’s show saw 60,000 people take in the event.
Airshow operations manager Dave Reith told The News that there is some uncertainty surrounding the event but organizers remain positive moving forward.
“We are aware of the decision and announcement made by the City of Abbotsford regarding events and gatherings,” Reith stated. “Our primary goal every year is to produce an event that is safe for our spectators, performers, and volunteers. We remain hopeful that by August, the spread of COVID-19 will be minimized and the Abbotsford Airshow will be able to proceed as planned.
“The Airshow will continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving situation concerning COVID-19 including the recommendations of government and public health agencies. We are developing contingency plans for a wide range of potential scenarios, from increased health and safety precautions at the event to postponement or cancellation.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of our spectators, participants and the community.”
The Abbotsford International Airshow team also sent out a note to volunteers this week, echoing much of what Reith said but also told volunteers to keep the Aug. 7 to 9 dates open.
Another big local event on the calendar is the Abbotsford Agrifair, which is scheduled to celebrate its 110th year from July 31 to Aug. 2.
The three-day event regularly draws thousands to Exhibition Park and is an annual showcase of Abbotsford’s deep agricultural history.
Agrifair organizers told The News earlier this week that plans are right now that the event is moving forward.
“Agrifair appreciates the mayor’s statement to postpone events at this time,” said Melanie Kish, fair manager. “Agrifair board and staff recognize that the COVID-19 situation is changing on a daily basis. As of (March 17), plans continue for an amazing Agrifair for July 31, Aug. 1 and 2, 2020, as we anticipate the community’s excitement for our country fair.”
Thursday morning (March 19) saw the Abbotsford Agrifair post on social media welcoming spring and looking forward to summer and Agrifair.
Bloom: Abbotsford Tulip Festival is another local event that has developed a massive following in the past few years.
The event features over two million tulips in bloom on a 10-acre field at 36737 North Parallel Rd. This year would mark its fifth year of operation.
Bloom usually opens in mid-April, and event organizers told The News it’s unclear about the status of this year’s festival.
“At this time, we are uncertain whether or not we will be able to open the festival to the public this year,” festival organizers stated. “Community safety is our number one priority and we are closely following the direction of our provincial government. Please stay tuned to our social media pages for updates.”