Vancouver’s 102-year old Pacific National Exhibition announced Tuesday it would be reducing the number of days it will be in operation for the first time in its history.
Over the past five years, PNE attendance has been in flux. It was 753,298 in 2008, but reached a high of 937,485 in 2010, boosted by the centennial celebration concerts featuring Bryan Adams and the Beach Boys. Since then, attendance has dropped back to 763,689 in 2012.
The 2013 PNE hopes to attract a wider range of visitors with a cut in the admission price to $16 from $20. The fair says the cut will be largely funded through lower operating costs as a result of the reduction of days from 17 to 15.
Laura Ballance, PNE media-relations representative, said the fair is not only in competition with a growing number of entertainment options in Vancouver, but also faces the lure of B.C.’s natural environment during the summer months.
The challenge is not limited to the PNE. Canada’s largest fair, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, has not seen its numbers take a hit but CNE general manager David Bednar empathasizes with the great competition fairs face for entertainment dollars.
“Once upon a time, the annual fair was the only show in town – now not so much,” said Mr. Bednar.
According to a PNE press release, in adjusting its admission rates and schedule it is following the trend of long-running fairs in the United States.
This year’s fair will run from August 17 to September 2 – it will close on the first two Mondays.