Why Organizers Are More Upset Than You That the Edmonton Sled Show Isn’t Happening This Year
We fully understand why sledders look forward to sled show season so much.
It’s the first sign of our long-awaited winter season for most. The first chance to get together with our buds and not just talk, but actually see and touch some of the new model year sleds and products we’ve been drooling over for months. It’s an opportunity to catch up with our “winter friends”, the people we only hang out with in our favourite season, or to rub elbows with the Brett Turcottes and Chris Burandts. Or, for the less social, an occasion to crush a beverage in the beer gardens and just take it all in. If you’re lucky, it’ll snow in the mountains while you’re walking the aisles, and they’ll announce it over the PA, building the anticipation.
At the sled shows, you can find both the greatest, just-released products and unbelievable deals on last year’s stuff. Sledders arrive with wallets bursting and leave with arms full and smiles on their faces, looking forward to that first ride on snow.
But not this year.
One-by-one, snowmobile shows and events this fall have been called off, including most recently the Alberta Snowmobile & Powersports Show (ASPS), widely-known as the Edmonton sled show.
2020 ASPS Edmonton Sled Show Cancelled
Needless to say, we understand the dismay of sledders as these highly-anticipated events are cancelled and our fall rituals disrupted. However, no one is more upset about the cancellation of the ASPS than the organization that runs it, the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA).
– Chris Brookes, Executive Director, Alberta Snowmobile Association“With no decrease in facility fees, we would have to provide spacing between booths, double wide, one-way aisles, two meter separation from exhibitors and attendees, extra staff to clean anything and everything that had been touched, and a way to register every show attendee.”
In Alberta, unlike most provinces, memberships and trailhead fees are not mandated by the government. For that reason, the ASA relies heavily on funding raised by the running of the ASPS each year to support its club and membership programs and oversight of 6,500 km of trails and riding areas in Alberta.
To understand why this difficult decision had to be made, we reached out to Chris Brookes, Executive Director of the ASA, who provided the following explanation, below.
If you’d planned on attending the ASPS this year, please consider purchasing a membership to the ASA to help the organization this year in fulfilling its mandate to support the trails and riding areas in Alberta.
Edmonton, Alberta (Aug 12, 2020) – Last week, the Board and staff of the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA) came to the uncomfortable realization that the ability to produce and host the 2020 Alberta Snowmobile & Powersports Show (ASPS) was no longer viable.
As our riding season came to an early end with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated government regulations, we felt a little lucky that this came when it did in our business cycle. A few months earlier would have spelled disaster for our Clubs and our Membership programs.
Alberta is pretty much the only place in Canada where you can ride without a government-regulated trail pass or trailhead fee. Our memberships are 100% voluntary and we need every dollar that we can raise to maintain over 6,500 km of trails and riding areas in Alberta. The other major source of revenue for the ASA is from owning and producing the ASPS every year in Edmonton.
We have been extremely fortunate over the years to see our show grow into the second largest show of this kind in Canada. Every year sledders, the snowmobile manufacturers, accessory dealers, and retailers of trailers, wraps, engine accessories, clothing and so much more, gather at the ASPS, in a gathering of the sport. We see retailers from across Canada and the U.S. at our show every year, as well as thousands of show goers, and it is no small job to put it together.
Working with our Show Manager Peri Price, the ASA staff and volunteers, the show planning begins every year in March and April, as we book space, coordinate with major exhibitors on timetables and space requirements, book the facility and advertising buys and continue to adjust the layout and technical requirements as exhibitor plans change through the summer.
The ASA has extra planning in conjunction with the ASPS weekend as we also hold our annual association AGM and produce the annual Alberta Snowmobile Awards of Excellence. It is a very busy weekend and the planning takes many months, so this year a drop dead date was chosen, where the losses from cancelled bookings and contracts would begin to become financially unwise.
Insurmountable Trade Show Event Restrictions
We had originally seen mid-July as a good time for a drop dead date as, back in early June, it appeared the first wave of COVID-19 (and its government requirements) would be would be past and we would be talking about Stage 3 openings in the fall. As mid-July came and went, this possibility slid away as restrictions did not appear to be lifting anytime soon.
Around this time the requirements for holding a trade show were released and were extremely restrictive. With no decrease in facility fees, we would have to provide spacing between booths, double wide, one-way aisles, two meter separation from exhibitors and attendees, extra staff to clean anything and everything that had been touched, and a way to register every show attendee. Move-in for our exhibitors would have to be doubled in time (and rent) to allow for proper spacing during show set up.
The list of requirements and associated fees made the possibility of producing a successful show pretty much zero. Then we had news that some of our major exhibitors would also not be attending due to corporate policies, so any show that we could produce would not be the experience that ASPS attendees have come to expect.
2020 ASPS Cancellation a Difficult Decision
Every penny of profit from the show goes back into organized snowmobiling across Alberta, so the decision to cancel did not come easily.
The funds each year go into many areas of programming, from our avalanche safety and reimbursement, first-aid and chainsaw training, signage for the clubs, trail maintenance grants, our SAFE RIDERS school program, additional insurance programs for Clubs and members and much, much more.
We carried our drop dead date a full two weeks past where we originally had pegged it, in hopes that restrictions would be lifted, exhibitors would head back, and a successful show could be produced somehow. But the situation did not change and we had to put a hold on the show for this season, as our losses were beginning to show.
We have made the call to postpone the 2020 ASPS until the beginning of next season, at the same time and place, to bring the show that everyone has come to expect.
– Chris Brookes
Executive Director, Alberta Snowmobile Association