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Decision to cancel annual rodeo not easy

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The last weekend of July is going to feel a little lonely in Swan River this year without the hustle and bustle of the NorthWest Round-up and Exhibition (NWRE).
On April 27, the Swan River Valley Agricultural Society (SRVAS) announced that the annual event that they have hosted in one form or another for more than 100 years has been cancelled for 2020.
“After many discussions and in review of government guidelines, the Board has made this difficult decision,” said SRVAS President Brent Williamson, in the press release.
“During this time of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear the health of our sponsors, guests, performers, exhibitors and volunteers could not be guaranteed with the running of such a major event. The health of everyone involved with an event of this size must always be paramount.”
Williamson added his appreciation on behalf of the Board for all of the volunteers, sponsors and community that have contributed to the SRVAS and the NWRE.
The NWRE has operated under that name for the last 64 years and has been held every year since then. An annual exhibition or fair has been held almost every year since the beginning of the SRVAS 118 years ago.
While the latest financial statements were never officially adopted and released to the general public, due to an incomplete Annual General Meeting held late last year, Vice President Austen Anderson confirmed that the SRVAS is not in a strong financial position, and not having an event this year is going to hurt the organization.
“The NWRE is a fundraiser for everyone but it’s also a fundraiser to look after those grounds,” he said, noting that the non-profit organization has significant expenses apart from the NWRE, including utilities and maintaining of several aging buildings.
Anderson anticipates that the SRVAS is going to get by in the next year by borrowing money, and applying for government loans designed for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We look forward to seeing you all in 2021 and will continue to work on making it bigger and better than ever!” concluded Williamson.
The Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce, which traditionally kicks off the weekend program with a Friday morning parade, has not yet made an announcement on whether their contribution to the NWRE festivities will be going forward.
High School Rodeo
The Swan River High School Rodeo and the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association is still operating in a holding pattern and closely watching government regulations to see if a local and/or provincial event can be held at some point this summer.

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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