Every day there is an announcement of some large-scale event that is cancelled. Even in this region, fairs like the Stormont County Fair and the Maxville Fair have been cancelled for this year. One of the biggest events of the region, the Glengarry Highland Games, announced last week that it too will not run this year.
Locally we’ve seen the postponement of the spring and summer sports season, and the Chamber of Commerce trade show. Morrisburg’s Canada Day event is cancelled for this year. The Upper Canada Playhouse has postponed its season, and likely more of our annual events will be put off or outright cancelled for 2020. It really is the lost year.
The problem is, for many groups, an event in July doesn’t magically appear in July. There are many months of planning and money already laid out before the snow begins to melt. Cancelling or postponing an event for a year doesn’t recoup the money and time already spent. For volunteer-based organizations, many which run on a shoestring budget as it is, this is may mean that events that were shut down in 2020 will not be able to reopen in 2021.
Normally when a group needs extra financial support, it can ask for help from the generous local business community. In 2020, with so many businesses struggling to recover, few will be able to afford it even if they wanted to. This same argument goes for all levels of government, which will have to deal with deferred tax collections, support programs, and long-term debt to compensate for the damage that COVID-19 has done.
To help the volunteer-based community, sport, and event groups in South Dundas and beyond move forward into 2021, it is going to take a concerted effort by all of us. That could mean higher fees, or a plea for donations where groups before did not ask. It will most certainly mean an increased need for more of everyone’s time to help volunteering.
Given the climate of physical and social distancing and the isolation of staying at home as much as possible, we realize the overwhelming need for activities and events as part of our community.
This may be a lost year, but one positive outcome of this pandemic may very well be a renewed sense of community and appreciation of the hard work volunteers do.