The Rock Creek Fall Fair (RCFF) has been postponed until next September, following a unanimous vote by the fair’s board of directors on Tuesday, Aug. 24.
The board’s decision came on the heels of an order by the Interior Health Authority’s (IH’s) top doctor limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to 50 and 100 attendees.
In the full text of the order, published Friday, Aug. 20, IH’s interim chief medical health officer Dr. Rob Parker pointed to a “public health hazard” in the region, where he noted a recent bump in COVID-19 infections, especially among unvaccinated people.
Speaking to The Gazette Wednesday, Aug. 25, RCFF general manager Lisa Sims said having to postpone the fair for the second year in a row was “very disheartening — very tough.”
Everyone involved, Sims said, had been working hard to bring the fair back for one day next month, only it would have been virtually impossible to bring scheduled events in line with safety protocols set out in the order.
The board considered staging the fair along the lines of a trade show or a market, Sims said. The order allows for these kinds of “flow through events,” but ticket-holders would be expected to file in and out of the grounds in short order, interacting “only with vendors or displays.”
“Unfortunately, the fair is not that type of venue,” Sims explained, adding that, “People come to socialize. People come to congregate and visit with one another. There was no way for us to limit the number of people in different areas of the fair.”
To that point, she said the fair had already sold around 1,500 tickets when the order came into effect on Aug. 21. “We knew that those 1,500 people would be filling the grandstands to watch the lawnmower races, or that 400 people would be in front of the stage watching (country music performers) Ben Glick or Kentucky Eileen.”
The RCFF’s 50/50 prize draw, sitting at around $20,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, will go ahead Saturday, Sept. 18. Tickets will be sold until Saturday morning, after which the draw will be filmed on-stage and posted to the RCFF’s social media, Sims said. This year’s fair tickets are non-refundable, but Sims assured ticket-holders that the fair will honour their purchases next year.
This year’s festivities would have marked the RCFF’s Diamond Jubilee, Sims said. The fair was expecting to host around 15 commercial vendors and around 10 food vendors. It would’ve been muted compared to fairs past, Sims said, but the whole point, “was to bring the community together” after 18 months of a pandemic.
The latest numbers published by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) show that new COVID-19 cases are disproportionately concentrated in the Interior Health Region. In the week of Aug. 15-21, there were over 700 cases reported in the Central Okanagan local health area alone; 193 in Kamloops; 153 in Nelson; 33 in Castlegar; 36 in Trail; 18 in Grand Forks and three in the neighbouring Kettle Valley.
There were 502 new cases reported in Vancouver in the same week; 74 in Richmond and 252 in Surrey, according to the BC CDC.
For comparison, the population density in the IH region was four people per square kilometre in 2020, according to the health authority. Population densities in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions were around 5,000 and 900 people per square kilometre as of December 2017, according to Statistics Canada.