Fair face-off: Vancouver's PNE vs Toronto's CNE
As a born-and-bred Vancouverite, I learned at an early age that Vancouver is vastly superior to Toronto (aka the Centre of the Universe). Nobody ever gave me specific reasons for this, but we all knew it to be true.
I've visited Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition since childhood, but I've always wondered about the CNE. After all, it's the Canadian National Exhibition. Therefore it must be bigger, and—dare I even think such a thing—better?
I happened to be in Toronto last year during the CNE, and jumped at the opportunity to visit its fair. I went with a couple of kids in tow, so I admit I didn't get a very broad overview: the under-10 set led the way… which meant we didn't get very far past the kiddie rides.
But I did get a taste of the CNE, and I must admit: it was pretty cool.
Some highlights? The overhead Sky Ride, a kind of flat gondola that stretches across the fairgrounds, giving a bird's-eye view of the action. And hey, a view of the CN Tower doesn't hurt for us tourists....
As a cat-lover, I also enjoyed the Cat Show, which brought over 100 very fancy cats to the fair (with their owners) for some serious competition. I've never seen cats as beautiful as these, and many of the owners were happy to show them off to the public as they waited their turn to be judged. This totally beat the PNE's Superdogs. (This year's Cat Show takes place August 24 and 25 at the CNE.)
Then there's the food. The CNE has a whole building housing everything from Bacon Nation to waffle and doughnut sandwiches. A whole building, I say! The PNE used to have a food building, many years ago…
But hey, while the CNE does have mini doughnuts, as far as I know they do not have Those Little Donuts, which are a Western Canadian thing. As far as I'm concerned, these are the only doughnuts worth eating at a fair: just watching them being made at the PNE fills me with joy.
And the CNE does not have a prize home to explore, which is always a highlight for me at the PNE. It's always fun to dream of winning it. (Over the years, however, the final location of the prize home has gradually moved further away from Vancouver—it's at Sun Peaks north of Kamloops this year—proving that Vancouverites can't even dream of owning a home in Vancouver anymore).
Also on my must-do list at the PNE: the inimitable Dal Richards Orchestra, an outdoor Summer Nights concert, and sampling at the annual Vancouver Rib Festival.
And of course, I will sit down at the Dr. Ho booth when I'm tired and then end up semi-seriously considering buying one of his contraptions.
The Fair at the PNE runs from tomorrow (August 17) to September 2 this year. (Note that it's closed on August 19 and 26.)
The CNE starts today (August 16) and runs to September 2.
If you have the chance, give both fairs a try. But depending on where you come from, you already know which one is better. Or do you?