If you plan to sit out the Fair at the PNE because you think it stays the same every year, you’re going to miss some choice offerings.
Yes, there are the tried ’n’ true faves. But the Fair at the PNE’s creative director, Patrick Roberge, told the Georgia Straight by phone about this year’s unique highlights.
“A couple of years ago, we started this commitment to ‘new and only this year’, and there’s a lot of great traditions at the fair—like the SuperDogs have been here for decades—so you can always find your traditional favourites,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do is really focus on brand-new things that you can only see this year at the fair.”
Among those 2016-only offerings is Unbelievable: A Magical Experience, a showcase of international magicians and illusionists that includes U.S. comedian-magician Matt Marcy, the U.K.’s Scott Pepper, and more.
Two exhibits that bring together science and pop culture are also being offered only this year.
The Angry Birds Universe show will immerse attendees in the physics of the popular game, with ziplines, oversized slingshots, a climbing wall, a laser maze, and more.
The interactive Alien Worlds and Androids exhibit (“where science fiction meets science fact”) covers everything from fictional characters like Iron Man and Star Wars’ C3PO to the real-life science of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Meanwhile, Dinosaurs Alive! A Jurassic Experience, featuring 20 dinosaurs (14 of them animatronic), was introduced last year but has expanded this year and will introduce recent paleontological discoveries to fairgoers.
New this year is Festival Park, part of a two-year countdown to Canada’s 150th anniversary. Canadiana will be on display along with the daily on-site parade Kaleidoscope on Parade; Hit the Deck!, a nightly show of Canadian music and dance; the colourful Canada Showcase, featuring dancers and performers from various cultures; and plenty more.
The annual Summer Night Concerts series, free with admission, has cross-generational appeal and this year boasts the likes of Culture Club, Chris Isaak, the Monkees, Olivia Newton-John, Simple Plan, the Steve Miller Band, and more.
Elsewhere, for adults, the Craft Beer Fest is back with expanded capacity, and the sixth annual Vancouver Rib Festival Competition will feature four Canadian barbecue teams.
Also, in Sanctuary Pond next door in Hastings Park (free with admission), staff from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. will teach kids (and adults over 16 with valid B.C. fishing licences) how to go after some of the stocked trout in that body of water.
Of course, for the kids (and gluttons) of all ages, Roberge says that among all the food items there’s also a mini-doughnut popsicle, which, he says, is a cross between an ice-cream bar and a bag of those little doughnuts.
The Fair at the PNE runs from August 20 to September 5. For full details, visit the PNE website.