Maybe it’s the midway madness, the zany food concoctions, or the plethora of international shopping and culture that bring you to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto year after year. Whatever the appeal, Canada’s largest fair has been a crowd pleaser for 138 years strong. Here are 10 reasons to check out the Ex. Not to be missed is the special Time Travel with the CNE website for a captivating photo history of the CNE throughout the years. Cneheritage.com See what has changed and remained the same.
1.) Food – There’s no point in keeping to your diet because once you walk through the Princess Gates your options will include greasy and sugary. With the countdown on to the first day of school, the CNE knows better than to ruin our fun. Corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes and ice cream waffles are all CNE staples. Get your barbecue fix at Ribfest by the Bandshell, and head to the Food Building to be overwhelmed by international flavours. New this year is Lick’s Burgers, serving up their popular vegetarian nature burger. And for the more adventurous foodies, Bug Bistro (yes, bugs) serves up The Bug Dog, a hormone-free hot dog seasoned with crispy mustard crickets. Oh, you can add other toppings as well.
2.) Midway – From the games and prizes to the rides, the neon lights and sounds and energy of the midway will take you back to your youth. But who says the midway is only for kids? From the Ferris wheel to the Fire Ball, whatever your thrill threshold; it’s easy to get a ticket to ride.
3.) Warrior’s Day Parade (August 22) – The CNE has always honoured our WWI and WWII veterans in the annual Warrior’s Day Parade, held on the first Saturday of the fair. The CNE is most fitting because it was once the site of Stanley Barracks, which housed British troops, and was later used to train members of the North-West Mounted Police and the military, and for post-war housing. In this, the 95th edition of the parade, the veterans and Canadian Armed Forces marching in the parade are commemorating the 71st anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
4.) Shopping – Shopping at the Ex is like travelling around the globe, but no passport is required. From the International Pavilion to the Arts, Crafts & Hobbies Pavilion and the EnerCare Centre, your cultural shopping spree will take you to Peru, Hong Kong, India and beyond.
5.) Music – Admission to the grounds includes concerts at the CNE Bandshell every evening, with headliners such as Alan Frew with The Spoons, Randy Bachman and Jefferson Starship. Mosey on over to the Northern Comfort Saloon to see country bands including Kelly Prescott, Buck Twenty, and Tristan Horncastle.
6.) Canadian International Air Show – Plane spotting doesn’t get any better than this. Always a highlight, and sadly a sign that the Ex is coming to a close, The 67th Annual Canadian International Air Show swooshes (a.k.a. roars) over Lake Ontario Labour Day weekend. Sunglasses, earplugs and SPF lotion recommended. (12 pm to 3pm)
7.) Star Trek: “50 Artists. 50 Years” – The creators of Star Trek were spot on when they predicted everyone would be using communication gadgets in the future. Trekkie fans can unite at this global art exhibit celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary. Stick around for selfies with your favourite characters. Now, if only William Shatner would make a special appearance. EnerCare Centre, Salon 105 (formerly Direct Energy Building).
8.) Hit List! Aerial Acrobatic & Ice Skating Show – Escape the heat to catch Canadian Olympic medalists, Joannie Rochette (except Aug. 23 to 25) and Elvis Stojko (Aug.23-Aug.25) perform alongside aerial acrobatic performers in two spectacular shows daily in the Ricoh Coliseum. Shows at 2pm and 5pm.
9.) The Great Canadian Water Ski Caper – Head out to the waterfront where expert water skiers splash, flip, spin and barefoot it on Lake Ontario. Two shows daily – 1:30 & 4:30pm, and Sept. 2 to 5 (4:30pm). Also catch the Wakeboard World Championships, August 25-28 (9 am to 6 pm).
10.) CNE Innovation Garage – A grand prize of $25,000 is up for grabs, as 25 young inventors compete in this revolutionary Tech conference and showcase the latest in consumer products. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen gives a special talk. (Aug. 19-21)
Special rates – Only $6 after 5pm Monday to Thursday