Impacts of Kempenfelt cancellation felt across Barrie

It was a different scene in downtown Barrie this civic long weekend, with the annual Kempenfest cancelled for the second year in a row.

The popular arts festival is the largest of its kind across North America. However, due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided to cancel the event once again.

The event typically brings together more than 400 different vendors, including musicians, food vendors and local artisans. It also typically brings a major boost to the local economy.

"It's just over $12-million to the local economy, and that's per year, and this is the second year in a row, so that's a big hit," says Todd Tuckey, the chair of the annual festival.

The loss was noticed by local businesses as well, with one downtown restaurant telling CTV News sales were down compared to a typical long weekend in August.

"It's usually an amazing weekend for us," says Heather Anderson, the manager of Pie Wood Fired Pizza, located in downtown Barrie. "Usually, this weekend is very busy, weather pending as well; it's been raining this whole time, but we have been slow compared to our normal.

"Officials say in addition to the losses felt by area businesses, which typically count on the festival for a boost in revenue, it has also been felt by the vendors, who also depend on it for income.

There are plans in place for its return next year from July 29 to August 1.