Dresden Exhibition going virtual

·3 min read

At least two major Thamesville festivals have already been cancelled for 2021, but technology may meet tradition at the 2021 Dresden Exhibition.

Dresden Agricultural Society President Alicia VanEsse says organizers looking at holding the event virtually this year as organizers of local festivals and fairs wonder if the provincial governments will allow large gatherings this summer. Last year, every local festival was cancelled because of provincial restrictions on the size of gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, only 50 people at a time can be together at an outdoor event.

That's forced organziers of local events to find creative ways to continue. The Dresden Exhibition is considering moving its event online. “This isn’t the way we want it,” VanEsse says, “but it’s the way of the world right now.”

While there is a chance everyone may be vaccinated by the time the summer fair rolls around, VanEsse says, planning for event has to get underway.

She says a virtual fair would be “a lot of work for a lot of people” but it would be able to offer shows and competitions in a “scaled back” version of itself.

Ribbons and prizes for best livestock, vegetable or baking will be decided virtually, VanEsse says. Competitors will be required to make submissions via video.

“It will be a big change and a huge amount of work,” she adds, “but it will allow the event to go forward.”

VanEsse says plans will be firmed up by the society at its annual general meeting on March 25.

In Bothwell, the fate of the Old Autos Show is still hanging in the air, but one of the Old Autos Magazine owners says she isn’t hopeful.

“I’m not optimistic about it,” says Mary Jo Depelsmaeker. “If they had the vaccines done, it might be possible, but that might not be done until September.

“I can’t see them letting us do it.”

The two-day gear head extravaganza held in August is a major tourist draw. Founded by the Old Autos Magazine, but organized by the Bothwell Optimist Club, the show brings in thousands of classic car aficionados from across Canada and the United States.

“We usually have 1,500 cars and at least 10,000 people,” Depelsmaeker says.

The show was cancelled because of COVID-19 in 2020 and organizers will meet March 25 to discuss the options.

So far, it’s a ‘no go’ for Thamesville’s outdoor events. Both the Thamesville Threshing Festival and Crossroads to the Future are already cancelled.

Ed Pumfrey of the Threshing Festival says it’s not happening this year, but there’s “hope for 2022.”

Bert Vanderheide, who spearheads Crossroads with a small team of volunteers, says pandemic safety protocols would make the event “too labour intensive.”

“It would cost way too much,” he says. “Restrictions make it too hard.”

Both events were cancelled last year.

Chatham-Kent Public Health and Chatham-Kent Tourism have yet to make any comments about the rules surrounding outdoor events in the municipality.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald