Barns, stables, sheep pens, 50,000 exhibitors, volunteers and fair workers plus some 40,000 visitors in the tiny village of Brome over the Labour Day weekend. Now imagine all this at your fingertips on your computer or smartphone: ladies and gentlemen, this is the 2020 cyber-edition of Brome Fair.

For its 164th year the best loved agricultural Fair in Quebec has become virtual. For the first time since World War II, the Fair is not taking place as usual this year. “It is at the request of the Quebec Agriculture Department that the Fair is not being held, but we have to ensure the financing of the event is not compromised in the future. The financing is dependant on holding the yearly event,’’ said Lee Patterson, Volunteer President of Brome Fair for 2020 and Members Relations Director for the Association des Expositions agricoles du Québec in an interview with Tempo. “The industry is not in peril but we have to be more imaginative and we must work differently,’’ added Patterson.

The regional economic fallout of the Fair is estimated at over $1M.

“The showing of animals in competition is more a tradition than a necessity for agricultural producers,’’ explained Patterson. Breeders now rely heavily on technology and laboratory analyses for embryonic assessment of their livestock for reproduction and sale. But, seeing, smelling, and touching the farm animals live brings the farmers’ hard work and the production of food closer to home for the thousands of urban visitors to the Fair.

On line all over the world

Not holding the Fair in the usual way may have its limitations, but it also has advantages. For the first time the Fair received floral arrangements, vegetable and teapots exhibits from England, France and Sweden. “All entries that could be judged by pictures or videos were entered,’’ said Gloria Robinson a key organizer of this special edition of the Fair who worked in cooperation with the Townshippers Association.

Participants had to abide by certain guidelines in order to compete. There will be no money prizes this year but the sought after rosettes will be awarded to winning entries.

“At first it was hard to picture and hard to understand how such a Fair could be held, but the further we go, the more we post, the better people understand,’’ adds Robinson. “After all,” said Robinson, “it is hard to imagine a summer that ends without Brome Fair.’’

To participate and find out more, go to:

bromefair.com/comptetions.

Many activities are also posted in the Fair’s Facebook page.