Saanich Fair (Colin Smith Photography)

The event that has marked the unofficial start to fall in Victoria for 151 years will not be taking place this year.

The 152nd annual Saanich Fair has been cancelled in light of provincial health orders banning gatherings of more than 50 people. This order is likely to remain in place until a successful vaccine or treatment has been found to combat COVID-19.

According to Saanich Fair President Dave Hamer, the Labour Day weekend fair annually draws crowds of over 45,000 to the Saanich Fairground.

“There’s no possible way of social distancing in a fair like that,” Hamer said in a phone call with Victoria Buzz.

The event plans to make a comeback in a traditional sense on September 4 – 6, 2021.

Cancelling the Saanich Fair will mean lost revenue for many businesses and non profits that rely on the event to accrue funds that allow them to function for the rest of the year, says Hamer.

In lieu of a grand annual fair this year, organizers are looking to move some events online through social media, and perhaps host a smaller farmer’s market at the Saanich Fairgrounds during Labour Day weekend this year.

“We’re going to have several meetings to discuss that. It’ll be educational, and there’s a chance we might have a [farmer’s] market up at the fairgrounds but we won’t have our traditional fair,” added Hamer.

Farmer’s markets are currently deemed essential by the provincial government and are therefore allowed to operate, provided that vendors only sell food and beverages.

“I know things are changing and opening up but right now you can only have vegetables and [other food items]. You’re not allowed artisans and vendors like that. That could change.”

More information about what this year’s Saanich Fair will look like and how some activities will be hosted virtually will be made available in the coming months.

Organizers are also inviting community members to share their ideas for a “virtual fall fair experience” by contacting them at info@saanichfair.ca or calling 250-652-3314.

Follow the Saanich Fair website and Facebook page for updates.