THANKS to COVID-19, one of British Columbia’s most beloved annual events may have looked a little different this year but the PNE Fair saw thousands of guests from across the province show up to support the iconic institution and take in their traditional Fair favourites. The PNE Drive-Thru Fair Experience was one of North America’s only drive thru fair to date this year, and the event drew almost 7,500 vehicles (an estimated 30,000 guests) over the course of eight operating days.
The PNE Fair is a staple of British Columbia’s summer celebrations every year and remains the largest ticketed event in the province after 11 decades.
“This has been a challenging year for everyone, but particularly the events industry,” said PNE’s President and CEO, Shelley Frost, on Monday. “Our team took the attitude: we can, we will and today we can safely say, we did. It was heartening to see the unwavering support from the people of this province for our organization. The smiles, laughs and cheers from guests were inspiring for our team throughout each day. We have now successfully staged four drive-thru events, bringing joy and a sense of normalcy to guests as well as much need employment for our team members, desperately needed revenue for our concessionaire family partners, and activity and revenue for the PNE. We will now focus on what is possible for the fall and winter seasons to continue to provide fun safe events and entertainment for our community, employment to our teams as well as support and revenues for suppliers, vendors and partners. We are so grateful to have sold out the limited capacity we had available.”
The first stop on the PNE Drive-Thru Fair Experience was the President’s Choice SuperDogs, where guests could see their favourite dogs doing their best tricks.
Next, guests drove up to Ag Alley to check out all of the barnyard animals including, llamas, goats, cows, pigs, and more. Guests then joined the Summer Celebration Reverse Parade, featuring dancers from all over the province – some of whom have been out of work all summer due to the pandemic. Guests then proceeded through giant dinosaurs and Dr. Seuss balloons where they could then buy tickets to the stunning PNE Prize Home, and finally pick up PNE Fair Food favourites before heading out.
“We’re so grateful the PNE was able to put together an event of this calibre in a year where our business has been absolutely devastated. This was just the most welcome and awesome end of summer for our family,” said Suzanne Poudrier, Owner, Reel Mac and Cheese food concession.
“It was so great to perform with my fellow cast members for a live audience. Although the drive-thru experience was a different way to entertain, it was fantastic to be working and bringing smiles to everyone safely in their cars,” said 21-year-old Josh Lalisan from Surrey, dancer/animator for the Summer Celebration Reverse Parade.
“We look forward to performing at the PNE Fair every year and it was so good to see the people in their cars laughing, cheering, honking their horns and smiling. I think maybe that for a few minutes they were able to forget all that is going on in the world and just cheer for the dogs they love,” said Lisa Sun, 11-year performer in the President’s Choice SuperDogs at the PNE Fair.
“The PNE did a spectacular job with this event. I think it’s so important for our youth to know everything that goes into agriculture in this province, and the PNE does that every year but for them to have put this on this year is fabulous,” said Samantha Gobeil, Hatzic Valley 4H Club.
“We’ve had people drive up to our booth with tears in their eyes, thanking us for being here. We are so happy the PNE selected us to be at this Fair because we are local, a BC family, and this is helping us so much. We are also so thankful for all the happy, upbeat people who love the PNE who came to support it and us,” said Jessie Au, Owner, Tin Lizzy Concessions.
Attendance by vehicles: 7340
Estimated overall attendance: approximately 29,500
Gross economic impact: $650,000
Combined revenue for on-site concessionaires (all local BC families): $325,000
Number of performers and staff recalled for this event: 200
Steeped in years of tradition, the PNE Prize Home lottery marked its 86th birthday this year, and a gorgeous West Coast modern, Net Zero Ready home will be awarded to a lucky grand prize draw winner. The draw will be held on Monday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m., and free guided tours are available from September 1 through 7. Tickets are still available for purchase at www.pneprizehome.ca
For more information on the PNE visit: www.PNE.ca.