Red River Ex plans to return to Winnipeg in August

The end of summer in Winnipeg may look closer to normal as the Red River Ex makes plans to go ahead this year.

Instead of its normal time in June, the annual exhibition will happen over 11 days from Aug. 27 to Sept. 6, organizers say.

Red River Ex Association CEO Garth Rogerson said they’ve been discussing whether to go ahead for months, and they feel confident they’ll be able to hold the event in late summer.

“I think with the current trajectory, with the vaccinations and, you know, the opening plans that we’ve seen in other provinces, that that’s a fairly safe date,” Rogerson said.

Health measures, including social distancing and hand sanitizing, will be in place, and midway rides will be spaced out more across the Ex’s 150-acre site.

Attendance may be restricted, lines will circle the rides, aisles will run one way, and there will be more tables so families can congregate together.

The annual event was forced to cancel last year, amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rogerson’s phone “rang off the hook” yesterday as word started to spread, he said.

“You can’t even believe how anxious we are. It’s been a year-and-a-half shutdown, devastating financially to our organization and, you know, all the operators, the food trucks, the vendors, the carnival,” he said.

“We have over 1,000 people working here over the fair.”

The annual event injects $10 million into the local economy, Rogerson said. 

The exhibition still needs permission from the province.

Rogerson said they are working with the health officials to ensure the Ex can operate safely, and has partnered with ride companies in Canada and the U.S. to get the event going.

Last week, Regina’s Queen City Ex announced it will go ahead over two weekends in August, while the Calgary Stampede is gearing up to run from July 9 to 18.