Ottawa

Western Quebec festivals cancelled at urging of province

Large summer festivals in western Quebec are being cancelled at the urging of the provincial government in hopes of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Shawville Fair and Festival L’Outaouais en Fête both called off

Jean-Paul Perreault is the president and general director of Festival L’Outaouais en Fête. (Radio-Canada)

Large summer festivals in western Quebec are being cancelled at the urging of the provincial government in hopes of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

"It is completely distressing," said the president of the Festival L'Outaouais en Fête, Jean-Paul Perreault, in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

On Friday, Quebec called for the cancellations of festivals, sporting and cultural events until Aug. 31, as it's believed protective health measures like physical distancing could still be in effect by that date.

Perreault is still planning his festival — but for sometime in 2021, rather than this June.

"We will be in solidarity with this government directive," Perreault said. "Our objective is, of course, to respect public order."

Perreault says he hopes Quebec's municipal, provincial and federal governments all take measures to support the cultural industry.

"We hope that our governments will adopt responsible measures at the same time to help cultural creation, support for our artists, support for our performance halls, support for the event industry and the numerous organizers," he said. 

He said postponing the festival until the fall of 2020, at which point it's possible some of the physical distancing measures may be lifted, isn't an option, since the artists he's booked have busy schedules.

No Shawville Fair either

As well, the Shawville Fair was called off after Quebec's Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries announced the cancellation of all agricultural fairs.

Organizers say the fair attracts between 30,000 to 40,000 attendees each year.

"We were heartbroken, but the safety of our exhibitors, fairgoers and volunteers are of the utmost importance," said Josey Bouchard, a spokesperson for the festival. 

The fair, which would have celebrated its 164th anniversary in 2020, was scheduled for Labour Day weekend. 

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