Summer may be on its last legs in Canada, but there is no dearth of fun inching towards fall in Toronto, thanks to the country’s largest fair, Canadian National Exhibition, lovingly called CNE or “The Ex”. Ever since it started in 1879, the CNE has captured young and old alike with the diversity of activities and summer fun offered at the vast Exhibition Place grounds in Toronto.
According to the CNE historical website, the fair was originally called the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, but in 1912, this name was officially changed to the Canadian National Exhibition to better represent what the fair had become: “A Show Window of the Nation.”
Today, this fair has become one of Ontario’s great annual traditions featuring entertainment in all its different avatars at one destination. Attractions include aerial acrobatics, ice skating shows, Lumberjack show, Mardi Gras Parade and so much more.
There is something for everybody, no matter what their origins, ethnicity or preferences. There are animals, celebrity chefs, live music performers, stunt shows, park performers, and the list is exhaustive. Of course, there is what CNE is best known for: lots of games and rides for all ages and gut levels.
Kids have a wide choice of 30 wonderful rides to choose from including Bumper Cars, Dizzy Dragon, T-Cup ride, merry go rounds, Lollipop Swing and many more. Adult rides require a strong stamina, stomach and heart to whip yourself into a frantic frenzy in a relentless arm that rotates up to 13 revolutions per minute, or scream all the way in a sensational roller coaster that travels more than 300 meters of track through mind-blowing twists and steep drops. However, if you’re not afraid of heights, the star attraction is the Sky Ride, extending 40 feet above the ground at its highest point. Gliding leisurely in the cars above the fairgrounds, visitors savour the exhilaration of the fest from a strategic vantage point, take pictures, and just soak up the lights at dusk.
The International Pavilion features artifacts, fashions, accessories, paintings and keepsakes from many different countries of the world. Guests are lured by the fine Pashmina of Kashmir, ornate statues of Buddha from Tibet, perfumes from Europe, jewelry from China, ornate furniture from the Middle East, among endless other attractive offerings.
The multicultural cuisine choices are mind boggling, too. If you didn’t get your fill of roasted corn, poutine, burgers and fries, spiral onion spuds or ice cream cones from the numerous food trucks parked in the open, step up to the enclosed food area and decide what to try with the throw of a dice. Check out the authentic Greek food, or try some Italian-styled pizza, or even the famous Indian biryani rice dish. With so much to do and try out, you will not see the time fly by, nor your cash!
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.