The Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba announced a surplus for 2021 at its annual general meeting, after experiencing another year besieged by COVID-19 and the virus limiting opportunities for live events.
It was a great meeting for Provincial Ex, said president Greg Crisanti, even though they were unable to meet in person for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.
“It all comes down to community support and our sponsors and staff and the board of directors. They literally worked so hard and pivoted every movement during this year with all the restrictions and the changes and the lack of our live events,” Crisanti said. “Without them, we would have been telling a different story at our AGM.”
The Provincial Ex posted a surplus of $258,00.15 in 2021 with $990,803.82 in revenue and $740,803.66 in expenses.
Highlights in 2021 for the non-profit included a successful Midway Madness on Labour Day weekend, the return of the Manitoba Ag Ex in October and a number of fundraising initiatives that involved Love-a-Fair, an August Drive-In at the Dome and the Polaris Ranger Side by Side raffle with C&C Rentals and Recreation, that saw sales go throughout the summer and fall.
During the AGM, three new board members were elected and nine board members were re-elected. There will be a 2022 executive board election on Feb. 7.
The non-profit is taking it one day at a time as it plans for 2022, Crisanti said.
The Provincial Ex faced a steep learning curve during the pandemic and had to overcome great adversity, especially when it came to fundraising. The organization hopes to see some of the fundraisers launched during the pandemic become regular events on the calendar.
The Provincial Ex had a mix of reactions from sponsors involved with the cancelled 2020 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair — some deferred payments until the next event or for a different event, while others have shown amazing support and have given sponsorship to ensure Provincial Exhibition can weather the COVID-19 storm, Crisanti said.
The 2022 AGM was a stark contrast to the 2021 meeting, Crisanti said, because Provincial Ex had the opportunity to host some live events, including Midway Madness and Ag Ex.
“Unlike talking a year ago when it was all virtual. We are so thankful that we have those two live events and got to gather in person.”
He added the Provincial Ex is especially excited about the launch of the Maintain the Glory campaign that began two weeks ago, which will help secure additional money for an endowment fund, among other things. For every $2 of capital contributions donated to the fund, the province will donate an additional $1.
The Provincial Ex is in a stronger position going into 2022, and a number of events are on the calendar, including the President’s Dinner Gala at Victoria Inn, which is 85 per cent sold out already.
The next major live event for the non-profit is the Winter Fair at the end of March.
Crisanti said they are planning on moving forward with Winter Fair, but organizers acknowledge the event will not be possible if current public health measures are not eased.
The Provincial Ex team has learned so much from the pandemic that it’s hard to be surprised, but everyone is in high spirits and focused on preparing for the Winter Fair. It’s a huge event that takes careful and detailed planning and an army of volunteers to bring to life, he said.
They need to keep the “foot on the gas” as they prepare to move forward, he said, and this philosophy will be in place unless they are forced to cancel the event.
“The skies ahead of us are still really grey.”
The organization cannot financially afford to put another live event on if they are going into it with a loss, especially coming out of a pandemic, he said.
The Provincial Ex will continue to run fundraisers throughout the year to help ensure revenue continues to come in.
Moving forward, the best possible year for the Provincial Ex would be the return of live events if public health measures deem it safe to do so.
“We would be able to have one heck of a party. I think our community, everyone is ready to come back … Unfortunately, the experts are telling us it’s just not safe to do so [right now],” Crisanti said. “We’ll take their advice and just hope for the best that we’re all doing our part so that in the future, we can gather together and start making memories together once again.”
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