Sigh… the time has come for us to bid farewell to another great season of holidaying abroad, relaxing at the cottage, and soaking up the sunshine in the backyard. For many Torontonians, the end of summer is marked by a visit to the Canadian National Exhibition. Fondly known as “The Ex”, veteran CNE-goers know there’s much more to this annual fun fair than the rides and games of the Midway. Here are five awesome highlights of this year’s Ex.
1. Noshing on Korean-style tacos, bacon Nutella sandwiches, and other unique delicacies at the Food Building
A visit to The Ex is not complete without a stop at the Food Building. In years past where deep-fried balls of butter and Krispy Kreme donut cheeseburgers were must-trys, this year’s greasy, heart-attack-inducing standout had to be Bacon Nation, a booth whose menu offerings included deep-fried bacon covered hot dogs, bacon sundaes, and bacon Nutella sandwiches. (We couldn’t resist giving this last one a taste. The verdict: surprisingly, very yummy!). We were a big fan of Far East Taco, which gave Mexican food an Asian twist by combining soft corn tortilla shells with your choice of traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi (marinated barbecued beef), kalbi (barbecued beef short ribs), and (our fave) spicy pork and kimchi.
2. Watching the Canadian International Air Show
One of the biggest draws of The Ex every year is the spectacular air show that happens on the Saturday to Monday of Labour Day weekend. This year was the 63rd year that the show took flight and, as we watched the dazzling aerobatics displayed over Lake Ontario, with a corn dog in one hand and a freshly squeezed lemonade in the other, we couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend one of the last days of summer.
3. Browsing the Shoppers’ Market
We’re shopaholics through and through, and The Ex is one of the best places to get our retail therapy fix. We spent a good chunk of time, happily strolling through the colourful indoor bazaar, checking out fashion accessories, clothing, leather goods, and beauty products galore.
4. Catching the “Rock on Rock” exhibit
We saw visual artist Daryl Maddeaux in action at the Garden Show as he stacked rocks of various shapes and sizes on top of one another, without the use of any type of adhesive. A regular at The Ex, seeing the “Master Rock Balancer” at work was truly a feast for the eyes.
5. Getting a bird’s eye view of the city on the Ferris Wheel
It’s the quintessential amusement park ride, and feels even more magical being on it after the sun has set. Once at the top, we were able to peer down at the gorgeous grounds of The Ex all lit up with LED lights and take in a picturesque, night-time view of Toronto with the CN Tower clearly in sight.
Farewell, summer! Until we meet again! And for those who didn’t make it out to The Ex this year, you now have a whole year to plan your visit for 2013!