cne 2020 cancelled

The CNE in Toronto is officially cancelled for 2020

For the first time since WWII, the Canadian National Exhibition — known affectionately among Toronto residents as "The CNE" or "The Ex" — has been cancelled in its entirety, putting a symbolic end to the summer of 2020 before it even began.

While rumours have been swirling for weeks that the CNE might be cancelled this year in light of physical distancing orders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, many of the festival's more than 1.5 million annual visitors still held out hope that things would be back to normal by the end of August.

Those hopes were dashed on Tuesday when an apparent email from CNE organizers to confirmed vendors for 2020 appeared on Reddit.

"Dear CNE Exhibitor, Concessionaire, as you may remember, the Canadian National Exhibition (established in 1879) has a long and colourful history, which truly reflects the storied tapestry of our country," it begins.

"Today, we have had to make a historic decision... after much consultation with City and Government officials and our Board of Directors, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Canadian National Exhibition."

The official news of the event's cancellation was confirmed by email on Tuesday afternoon (after multiple unreturned calls to the CNE and city officials).

"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 Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA) president John Kiru.

"Summer in Toronto will not be the same without the sights and sounds of the CNE, alongside so many annual festivals and cultural events that have been forced to cancel. We stand in solidarity with the collective effort to curb this global pandemic, and we will all do our part to ensure it happens."

With the cancellations of Pride, Caribana, Canada Day and all other major events until at least June 30 already confirmed, this latest loss is especially sad for Toronto residents, many of whom have been attending The Ex every year since childhood.

That said, the news is ultimately unsurprising: Mayor John Tory warned during an interview just one week ago that the prospect of a 2020 CNE seemed "unlikely" and told residents that he "wouldn't bet on" it.

The 18-day celebration of innovation, agriculture and and over-the-top foodstuffs will not take place this year as scheduled (it was meant to run from August 21 to Sept. 7), but organizers say they'll try to bring "the fun of the fair" to regular attendees through "creative and innovative ways."

A virtual butter sculpting contest, maybe? A baby animal live cam? Instructions for DIY bottles that won't fall over no matter how hard you hit them or how much money you spend on what might result in a new Squirtle stuffie?

I'm good on the latter, thank you very much, but watching chicks hatch via webcam would be cool.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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