Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Let's go to the Ex

For everyone who has grown up or lived in Toronto there's always one signal that summer is ending and school is just around the corner.  It's not the shorter days, cooler nights or even the back-to-school shopping commercials, it's the Canadian National Exhibition.  Since 1879 Torontonians and tourists alike have been enjoying there last weeks of summer on the CNE grounds.  I imagine it's changed some in the last 134 years, but it still remains a strong tradition. 

Thousands of people enjoy this fair over it's two-week run and for everyone, the CNE means something different. For some, the highlight is have the most deep fried, high-calorie delicacy at the food building.  Culinary delights such as fried Mars bars, Fried ice cream, Nutella poutine and lets not forget this year's top disaster - the cronut burger.  You out did your greasy self this year CNE, sending dozens of folks straight to the loo and seeking medical attention (slow clap here). 

Or maybe you go for the rides and the carnival games. The ferris wheel is my personal favourite.  And this year they introduced a zip line and an aerial cable car that will take you from one end of the midway to the other.  And if you're a lot braver than I am and haven't been to the food building yet, there are lots of topsy turvy and spinning rides to test your iron stomach. And if you're looking to impress that special someone with your athletic ability, strength, precision or smarts there are lots of games to play and win your bu that all important carnival stuffy. 

Perhaps your thing is shopping.  The CNE has lots of that too.  From small handicrafts to big art pieces, trinkets from around the globe, furniture and hot tubs, the CNE has it all.  And all at it's special CNE price.  But be warned, not all vendors are open to haggling.  That's not really the idea here and you might unintentionally offend someone. I've seen it and it's not pretty.  

And if you're like me, you go for the shows.  With a $16 admission ticket, you get
Haunted Scadding Cabin.... oooooo
to see some pretty awesome stuff at no additional cost.  This year I participated in the After Dark Ghost walks.  As hundreds of people are buried under the CNE grounds and it was the site for several military battles there a ghost/ spirit sightings all over the place.  The tour takes you from one end of the grounds to the other, telling tales of trapped souls.  And if these mysterious things are what intrigue you, then you should also check out the magic show by Mike D'Urzo.  If you can get over his phony stage voice, the trick with the lemon is pretty cool. 

If you're into more athletic displays, be sure to stop by the Flying Wallendas just outside the Direct Energy building.  It's a short show, but fascinating.  You probably won't even believe your eyes.  Two guys riding bikes on a tight rope while holding a lady on a chair.  Does that even make sense to you right now? I saw it and it still puzzles me.  I would also HIGHLY recommend the acrobatics show in Ricoh coliseum.  With top notch stage production and incredible talent it is a must-see for me at this year's Ex.  Oh, and don't forget to check out the sand sculptures on your way in!   This year's sculptures are simply breathtaking. 

For a super special dose of ultra cute, be sure to visit the Superdogs.  They are a crowd pleaser for everyone from toddlers to my 89 year-old grandma.  Dozens of dogs of all different breeds race, jump and try to outsmart each other during a very high-energy 40 minute show.  I know it sounds simple, but trust me it is some of the most fun you'll have at the CNE.  If you want to get good seats make sure to get there early as the arena always fills up.      

A visit to the CNE would not be complete without a live musical performance.  And this visit ended with a high energy, dancetastic performance by Dragonette.  They have different performers lined up for every night the CNE is open, so make sure to check one out. It is the perfect end to a fun-filled day.  And besides, a little dancing will help to burn off some of that funnel cake. 
Dragonette takes the stage at the CNE Bandshell