Friday, August 27, 2010

The Fair

The Pacific National Exhibition is 100 years old this year.  We went yesterday to spend our day at the fair.  We try and go every couple of years just to keep up with all the changes.  This year seemed like a special celebration and it was!

This is nothing like the Fall Fair I remember from my more rural home town.  I always enjoyed coming to the PNE because it was so big and sophisticated.  The rides were higher, the candy floss cones were bigger and there were all those new gadgets at the Home Building.  My parents would probably just have noticed the bigger price tag for all that culture, size and speed.

That big price tag hasn't gone away but I suppose that a day's entertainment for $20 is a good deal these days.  That's all it costs if you bring your own food and water and don't want to see any of the special evening shows.  Of course, most people splash out and buy the mini-donuts, the hamburgers with fried onions - that you can smell all over the grounds - or some wonderful BBQ chicken.  If you want to save big change on the water, there are water fountains everywhere.  And, a sign of the times, hand sanitizers, too.

There's lots to do at the Fair that costs nothing.  When I was a girl, my father would always head on over to the stables and barns to see the livestock.  Sometimes, I had to go too and it was so-o boring.  I could see cows and horses any day right where I lived.  Big deal.  Yesterday, one of the best shows was watching the riders  cutting cows out of the herd and getting them penned.  It was amazing the tension and excitement such a low-key event could generate.  We cheered for the escaping cows and loudly applauded the three women who had the best time.

Another interesting addition this year was the Container Art.  Submissions from local artists are featured inside shipping containers.  It's an interesting concept and some of the work is truly stunning.  I especially liked the tiny mixed media scenes inside what look like pinhole cameras made from large wooden boxes. 

We enjoyed the Superdogs, too, but the show is much shorter than it used to be.  Or are we older and time is flying faster?  No matter, there wasn't enough dog show!  Those dogs are so smart and enjoy what they do.  You can see them laughing with happiness. 

We watched a wonderful display by the Peking Acrobats - it was such a bright spectacular show.  I think the kids in the audience must have been thrilled to see the younger members of the troupe performing.  The BC Sports Hall of Fame has an opportunity to try a bobsleigh or sit-skiing experience. And they have a lot of memorabilia displayed.  There's a long road lined with amazing sand sculptures.   The Canadian Forces have tanks and a fighter plane to look at.  The Mounties have their musical ride.  It seems to be as much about PR for organizations as it is fun.  And there's the huge Marketplace full of the latest time-saving gadgets and other cool stuff.  So,yes, the Fair has changed and no, it hasn't. 

What I miss most, of course, is the individual effort of those canners, gardeners and needleworkers from past years.  This hasn't been a feature of the PNE for a number of years.  There are no longer blue ribbons for your dahlias or your strawberry jam.  I wonder if alll our emphasis on growing our own veg will give this feature a come back opportunity?Is it still an attraction at the  Fall Fair where I grew up?  I'll have to check it out sometime.  Better do it quick before it disappears.


Paws on the Run said...

Sounds like fun! I don't need to ask if you did any rides. ;)

Ginny said...

I would LOVE to go to this!! But did you take lots of pictures? Will you be doing other posts about it? I hope so!! It sounds amazing!

Stephanie V said...

Paws -Yup, no rides!

Ginny - unfortunately we didn't take a camera.

Andrea said...

There's lots of ribbons and homemade jam at our fall fair! Maybe you should check it out - it's probably like what you remember as a child. We're pretty old-fashioned in the country still!

Rudee said...

I enjoyed the trip to your fair, especially since we no longer have one.

Detroit had the oldest state fair in the US, but last year was that fair's last due to budgetary woes. One of the best exhibits was the one Michigan State University staffed with both animals and veterinary students. All of the animals were heavily pregnant and birthed while at the fair. Children loved this exhibit and the opportunity to see how things work, so to speak, on a farm.

I hope the more homey arts make a comeback to your fair!

Rachel Cotterill said...

I've never been to a really big fair like that - it sounds like an incredible day out, and I'd definitely spend the $20 for that. And a bit extra for mini donuts ;) It makes me sad that the craft & produce prizes are no more, though - we have those at small fetes here and it's lovely to see.

Jane@WildeThymeKnits said...

Wow! You've made me much more appreciative of our fair which is happening right now. Some of my friends have exhibited knitting this year and won ribbons. It's several years since I was there. Perhaps I should pay a visit just to be sure that we don't lose such a wonderful tradition.

Joanna said...

The PNE sounds like a great place to spend a day. But if you want knitting and canning and cakes and flower arrangements and pumpkins, come over to Victoria to the Saanich Fair some time. I think it would take you back to the old days.

Stephanie V said...

Thanks for all the offers. That would be some fun research, wouldn't it?


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