Celebrate CNE’s 135th Anniversary in Style

Toronto Life
CNE by Jeff Robson
CNE by Jeff Robson

Event: Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

Location: Exhibition Place TorontoLake Shore Boulevard West and Strachan Avenue

Dates: August 16–September 2

The end of the summer in Toronto traditionally belongs to Canada’s largest annual fair, which is currently celebrating its 135th anniversary. Approximately 1.4 million people visit the Ex each year to enjoy all kinds of attractions — from concerts, shows, and midway rides to innovative food fairs.

CNE by Scooter Korek
CNE by Scooter Korek

The fair started in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, promoting agriculture and technology in Canada. But, the Canadian National Exhibition has changed over the years, reflecting the demands of the diverse population of Toronto and the GTA. The CNE supports the local economy with approximately 1,200 jobs starting in the spring and an additional 3,500 jobs during the fair itself. This year is the CNE’s first season of independence from the City of Toronto. Mark Grimes, chair of the Exhibition Place Board of Governors, remarked,

The independence of the CNE Association is good for both the CNE Association and Exhibition Place. The agreement will protect the Board of Governors and the City against any negative financial consequences and at the same time will allow the CNE Association to reach financial and organizational stability for the new independent organization.

Visitors to the CNE can look forward to new rides, including a 37-metre arm that whirls riders 360 degrees upside down and inside out called Mach 3 and an 1,100-feet line of 126-foot scaffolding known as Zip Line. The annual CNE Sky Ride has prepared a stunning aerobatics show featuring the Canadian Forces Snowbirds as well as the acrobatic daredevil Mike Wiskus.

The Donut Burger will be making its triumphant return to the 2013 CNE this year
The Donut Burger Will Be Making Its Triumphant Return to the 2013 CNE This Year

Traditionally, one of the highlights of the fair is food, and once again, the CNE will host Food Truck Frenzy with up to 20 trucks from across North America serving a wide combination of culinary creations. Foodies can also learn some culinary skills of some of North America’s best chef’s at the Food Network Celebrity Stage, including Mark McEwan, Bob Blumer, Susur Lee, and Michael Smith.

The highlights of the kids program include an interactive horse show with different games and contests, the President’s Choice SuperDogs with its country music show Wild Wild Woof, a working farm, Splash’N Boots performances, and Professor Wick with his School of Magic and Illusion.   Plus, musical performances will include such names as The Proclaimers, New Pornographers, and The Beach Boys. If you want to be amazed, then you shouldn’t miss The Flying Wallendas — one of the greatest acts in circus history dating back to the 18th century.

CNE by Scooter Korek 1
CNE by Scooter Korek 

This will be the fourth consecutive year without an increase to admission prices. General admission is $16, and family tickets cost $48. David Bednar, the CNE’s general manager, suggested,

In exchange for your admission, you’ll have an experience that you just can’t have anywhere else and that you as a participant kind of self direct, because you choose — in your four or five or six hours at the Exhibition — what you’re going to see and do and participate in.

The organizers of the CNE are trying to implement environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions when preparing the fair. In 2010, the CNE became the first fair in North America to receive EcoLogo certification — one of the continent's most acknowledged environmental standard and certification marks. As Bednar pointed out,

Canadians are very much aware of the responsibility to protect the environment and the CNE reflects that awareness, making green initiatives an integral part of our planning.

Bring your whole family, but don’t forget to leave your pets at home, as they're not allowed on CNE grounds. For further information on the CNE 2013 program, click here.

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