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Organizers of next week's eMERGE EcoMarket have postponed the shake-free event

In this Grounded feature we talk to Evan Ferrari about the decision to postpone the eMERGE EcoMarket scheduled for Saturday March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

A day after organizers announced they were proceeding as planned with the eMERGE Guelph EcoMarket, they have reversed course and announced the event scheduled for Saturday March 21 at the Old Quebec Street Shoppes has been postponed. 

They cited concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 in a statement released today.

“Our health comes first,” they wrote. “Given all that has transpired recently it is evident that postponing the eMERGE EcoMarket is in the best interest of attendees, exhibitors and the general public.” 

GuelphToday spoke with Evan Ferrari executive director of eMERGE Guelph yesterday shortly after they announced that the event would proceed as planned.

“Needless to say we are watching things progress and we have a bit of luxury of time,” said Ferrari. “It is still more than a week away and for the time being it is on. We want to make sure that we listen to decision makers from a health perspective and do things that add value to what they want to do at this point.”

Today's announcement illustrates how quickly things can change as the pandemic spreads.

The decision to postpone the event came in the wake of a number of other festivals and community events being cancelled due to the crisis including the Guelph Resilience Festival that was scheduled to launch on the same day as the EcoMarket. 

“The response to this is unprecedented in my lifetime,” said Ferrari. “I suspect that people who lived through the Second World War would have seen something on this scale before.”

Organizers had hoped the event could proceed without fear of spreading the virus and encouraged people to practice safe shopping and socializing.

“Our ‘Lucky 13th’ EcoMarket was supposed to be a Shake-Free event,” they said. “That is we want people to show us how they can greet each other without shaking hands, hugging, kissing - you get it.”

The EcoMarket is done in conjunction with the H20 Go Festival and brings together vendors, artists and activists to promote the “green supply chain” and “create a more sustainable city that fights climate change.”

Ferrari is disappointed that they had to postpone the event but sees the international response to the pandemic as an example of how we can mobilize and work together for a common cause. 

“I can’t help but think as we get to a point where we see the back end of the coronavirus, we need to tackle climate change with the same gusto, with the same absolute importance and emergency that it truly is,” he said.

My point is not to diminish the severity of the crisis before us. It’s to say yes we need to focus on this but then remember how we did this. Remember how we all rolled up our sleeves and did what we had to do. Now, we need to switch gears when this is all over and focus on climate change in the same way.”