When you’re business is based on having mass gatherings, the current COVID-19 pandemic makes things virtually impossible.
That’s the case with Lethbridge Exhibition Park which already cancelled the Spring Home and Garden Show in March.
The rest of the exhibition’s 2020 events calendar is completely up in the air and that includes Whoop-Up Days.
General Manager Rudy Friesen says when it comes to Farmers’ Markets however, that’s a totally different situation. “The province has deemed it’s an essential service, at least with respect to the food vendors. They consider it to be similar to a grocery store. That said, we would have to deliver the market while regarding physical distancing and those sorts of things. We are grappling with that right now as to how to deliver that.”
Friesen says on average, Exhibition Park attracts roughly 800,000 people to its events each year so the economic impact for their operation is significant.
“Beyond the immediacy with what we deal with we are looking at least out to our fiscal year end which is in October and quite possibly beyond that,” says Friesen. “Trying to figure out what the world looks like for an organization that’s effectively in the event business.”
As for Whoop-Up Days in August, Friesen says Ex Park will have to let time pass by and get a little closer to the event before some definitive decisions can be made.
Friesen says the concerns are similar right across the as and events industry as a whole.
At the end of March, the Lethbridge & District Exhibition temporarily laid off 80% of it’s full-time workforce because of the ongoing pandemic.