Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What happenned to the CNE?

TheStar.com - Longing for the CNE of years gone by

Over the past two weekends I have been down to the Canadian National Exhibition's (CNE) 128th season.

The first weekend I was really excited to go to "The Ex" as I hadn't been in quite some time. I also had reason to, a former colleague from New York was up here on vacation and I thought "Let's go to The Ex!"

Over the next two weeks I was dissapointed:

First, after getting off the streetcar I paid $12.00 admission to get into the grounds. Sure this twelve buckaroos would have been great if it included even one or two rides. Nope sorry, out of luck. This twelve simoleans only lets your sorry ass get through the gate and the right to enter a melting pot of a flea market and land (carni market? flea land?).

While walking around the CNE I was fairly dissapointed that really the only excitement was the rides which I will point out you had to pay for at a cost of $3 to $6, various casino games, traditional "try your luck" or carni games.

Inside the old buildings things weren't that much better. A the food building, overpriced food supposedly prepared by well known vendors like Swiss Chalet, Pizza Pizza, and other Toronto area chain restuarents were a great dissapointment. This disspointment emanated from the fact the food quality people have come to expect from these chains was lacking.
Basically the food building was a large mediocre food court. If I wanted this type of environment I would head to Vaughan Mills Mall or Upper Canada Mall thank you very much!

Over at the Sports exhibition in the "Better Living" building more of the same flea market stalls were present. These "stalls" sold everything from sweat socks to ball caps. However there was a glimmer of excitement in the hall! While I was in this building for an hour there was one half time basketball show that was fairly good. The players would jump off trampolines and dunk a ball in a basketball hope. This was perhaps the funnest thing at the CNE.

Over at the Horse Palace, which apparently in the olden days used to be a two floor building brimming with the sounds of stallions and mares in yesteryear I was again dissapointed. The building was perhaps only a quarter used if that. There were two aisles describing to the youngsters what horses were and why horses were important. Sure this was great for the four or five year old who grew up in the city and has never seen or even been near a horse before. But I was looking for perhaps some trick riding or some true horsemanship.

I was sadely mistaken, all I got was one gentleman with a horse on a rope running around and around and around. I felt sorry for the horse having to be watched by all the city slickers and going around and around and around in order to get some excercise.

It seemed the horses in the horse palace seemed more like a inmates or a nuisance than anything else. Children had to use tongs in order to get a chance to feed a horse a carrot. Ride a horse? Sure the kids got to ride a horse! A fake mechanical horse at that! It seems horses at the CNE are more to be kept in stalls with "Do not pet" signs on the outside doors of the stalls. I really felt sorry for the horses that were there, at least the few of them that were there.

Was there anything great about the show? On the second weekend (and really the only reason I returned to "The Ex" at all) the Air Show was, as it usually is during this time of year, pretty good. It wasn't spectactular as the weather was drizzley to rainy. But the CF-18, the Aurora aircraft, the Harvard planes and the Canadian Snow Birds made appearances. I didn't get to see the Snow Birds while I was there on the Saturday of the Air Show because I was too cold, wet and hungry after two hours of standing outside. So I retreated to the warmth of the Food building for some substandard fries from Swiss Chalet. But at least I got to see a CF-18 woosh accross the sky and hear the unique sounds of three Harvard Aircraft doing tricks in the sky.

But I think next year I would skip paying the $12.00 admission and just watch the air show from the lake front. I found the two announcers who described every single detail of the planes right down to the type of screws used to fasten the door handle, to be a little annoying. In fact they were repeating things over and over again.

Would I go next year to the CNE? Probably not because I can go to carni land and flea markets for the less than $12.00 in other locations in the Toronto area. So this being the 128th season, what happenned to the CNE's past glory? What happenned to the CNE?

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