I know. I know. I can hear you. Is it THAT time already?
There's nothing that signifies summer coming
to an end like the annual tradition of going to the
(CNE or The EX) in Toronto. It's kind of bitter sweet.
Being born and raised in Toronto my parents always took us to the EX. My sister and I would wallow in cotton candy, slurp up 99 cent spaghetti, eat cheap hot dogs and Lolas. We'd run through the mirrored mazes, play the fishing games where everybody wins, and take in the Dog Show. We'd laugh at the sounds of the "carnies" chanting "DOGGY DOGGY". And mom would drag us through the world marketplace to get lavender sachels and chinese slippers.
It was also a perfect "date night" outing as teenagers...but that's another story.
Now, as adults, we've continued the tradition of visiting the EX with our kids. It's part cultural, part cheesy, and all FUN! It's a day of totally giving summer one last lick of the ice cream cone and take in the sights and sounds of the annual Air Show. We love the Canadian Agriculture Building with all the animals but the recipes for the beef and chicken right next to the livestock is still odd for me. The farmers (yes, farmers not just marketing types) are there to answer all your questions about how the animals get from farm to table. Good for the kids to understand and appreciate where their food comes from.
Each year the EX and it's promoters find their "HOOKS". Remember the deep fried butter last year? Yeah. So, what's going on this year? You can visit their website to see all it has to offer...probably some surprises too!
Check out www.TheEx.com for all the details including evening Bandshell Performers like NICK CARTER!
Easy tips on how to enjoy the CNE with kids...
1. Plan to stay the entire day. We usually arrive at 10 am and stay till 8 pm. Yes, we're crazy. But we love it! Enjoy and take your time but don't over plan it. There are daily schedules posted online with special highlights. See what's happening and then decide when to go.
2. Ideally go earlier in the week when it's not so busy and line ups are still manageable with kids. The weekends are crazy and the evenings are filled with teens. Purchase your admission and ride tickets online before you go to avoid the line ups at the kiosks.
3. It may take a while to get from point A to point B. There are trams available so take advantage of them. There are designated pick up and drop off points throughout the grounds.
4. Family friendly Kid's World also has quiet feeding/changing areas for families. A great resting spot! Don't forget to visit the Fire Station with real Fire Fighters!
Three new rides are added to this year's EX. The CNE Sky Ride will elevate visitors into the air and transport them above the grounds to get a bird's eye view of the CNE. NITRO riders will be taken on more than 300 metres of track through twists, turns and drops in specially crafted Italian made cars. ZIP LINE will safely harness visitors high above ground and release to an exciting zip down.
Kids into fishing? The FISHING FRIENDZY is also new this year at THE FARM. This interactive kids' area encourages children to learn about fishing, nature, safety and the environment. Kids can learn about fish anatomy, how to cast like a pro, catch a fish, tie knots and more.
Food Building favourites and new vendors meet dietary needs! It's not like years past when all you can get is carb-laden yummies at the EX. This year, new icon signage will help visitors easily identify food needs such as gluten-free, halal, peanut free, vegan options and more. But hey, I'm eyeing the bacon with Nutella sandwich at BACON NATION...why not? Or the FAR EAST Tacos! OMG...I am dying to try the Bulgogi or the Spicy Pork and Kimchi Tacos! And of course we can't forget about those ridiculously addictive TINY TOM'S DONUTS! I swear I'll go back to watching what I eat after!
Ice Skating shows featuring Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canadian Ice Dancers and 2012 World Championship Gold Medalists will be featured during the first 15 days of the fair (August 17-31). The duo won Gold for Canada in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
There's plenty more to see & do. Truly something for everyone and for all generations to enjoy. Hardly think one day is enough there this year!
See you at the midway! Who's in for a game of Whack-a-Mole?
What's your fondest memory of the CNE?
ABOUT THE CNE
The Canadian National Exhibition is Canada's largest fair and one of the top 10 fairs in North America. Founded in 1879, the CNE celebrates its 134th year in 2012, when it takes place from August 17 to September 3. Each year over the course of its late summer 18-day run, the CNE attracts approximately 1.3 million people. On average, it generates an economic impact of $58.6 million on the Greater Toronto Area and $80 million on the province of Ontario each year. For the past two consecutive fairs, the CNE has been awarded Eco Logo certification, confirming it as the "greenest" fair in North America, and the most "environmentally friendly' large scale even on the continent. the CNEA Horse Show and Casino opens before the fair, on Monday, July 30th. HorseCapades opens July 31.