The Calgary Motor Dealers Association has decided to not hold the 41st Calgary International Auto and Truck Show in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 21st edition of the annual Vehicles and Violins charity gala has also been dropped.
Both could be back in 2022 said CMDA executive manager Jim Gillespie.
“This decision was not taken lightly,” he said. “We had one of the largest attended meetings in our history. It shows our membership is fully engaged.
“We’re devastated, but we have to protect the well-being of our patrons, our staff, our partners – and the organization,” he added. “We also had to be fair to our partners.”
“Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, it’s impossible to forecast where things will stand in terms of the virus by the time the March timing for the show rolls around,” he said. “Therefore, it is not possible to make the commitments that need to be made to move forward with a show of this stature.
This is the first time show won’t be held since the exhibition began 40 years ago.
The CMDA took a heavy financial hit when the 2020 show was closed on the second day of its run in March, also due to the novel coronavirus.
Without revealing figures, Gillespie said refunds took a toll on association bank accounts.
“Every OEM, every sponsor, every exhibitor received a minimum 50 per cent refund. Ticket holders who could not attend a show received a full refund.
“We wrote a lot of cheques,” he said. “Fortunately, the CMDA is financially healthy, but we certainly couldn’t do that again,” he said.
Despite the cancellation, the Calgary Motor Dealers Charitable Fund, through the Vehicles & Violins Gala honoured its commitment to Discovery House with the donation of $100,000. The CMDCF also was able to donate more than $40,000 though educational scholarships and to local area charities, despite very limited proceeds from the show prior to it’s cancellation.
Unlike Toronto and Montreal, a virtual auto show is not in the works here, although Gillespie said he’s not completely closed to the idea “if OEMs love one of the virtual platforms, we will look at it.”
He said the CMDA will come up “with something” to raise funds for a selected charity “although exactly what is still to be discussed.
As for 2022:
“The show will be back, providing the same level of success and excitement our partners and attendees have enjoyed while benefitting the numerous Calgary and area charities and educational institutions that have been the recipients of proceeds from these events.
“The BMO Centre has reserved our March dates for 2022.”