Evan and I had tickets to see Blue Rodeo on Saturday night at the Molson Amp (again, I feel like I live there) and because you have to walk through the Canadian National Exhibition grounds to get to the concert venue we got into the CNE for free! aka the Ex. aka where all the crazy food is!!!
The CNE only runs the last two weeks of summer, until Labour Day, and it is a quintessential Toronto summer activity. I used to go for years with my Nana when I was younger and she would go on all the rides with me! These days I prefer to check out the food situation – the food building is ridiculous. I was completely overstimulated and overwhelmed in there. I didn’t know where to look, let alone what to eat. I wrote a post last year on Buzzfeed about all the crazy foods. They add new food every year (and it keeps getting crazier) but they still had the old favourites, like the cronut and donut burgers that were all the rage a few years ago.
That churro cheeseburger might be new though. And pizza in a cone.
I guess I’m falling for the novelty of it because I do quite like the idea of pizza in a cone.
Evan and I did a lap of the perimeter and settled on sharing snow crab fries to start.
Ehh, overrated. Too many fries, not enough crab. The crab was good but it was so skimpy that I can’t recommend for $11. Keep walkin.
Keel walkin right on over to the Vienna food stall with the POUTINE BALLS!!!!
This was worth every penny. Little balls of mashed potato and cheese, deep fried and served with cheese curds and gravy. OH GOD YES. That was as good as it looks. Maybe even better than it looks. No regrets!
As we were walking out we passed the Japanese street food booth and this caught our eye… the RAMEN BURGER.
That is a burger with ramen noodles as the bun. What a dream. I don’t know how you say no to that, so we got it to share. Really good. Kind of weird, but weirdly delicious. 100% would eat again.
After all the eating we walked around the grounds for a bit before heading over to the concert.
Blue Rodeo was wonderful but seeing them on Saturday night meant we were missing the last Tragically Hip concert, which I was initially a bit bummed about. I have seen the Hip before a long time ago, but I know watching it would have been such an amazing and emotional experience. Although maybe for the best because I couldn’t even watch a commercial about the concert without tearing up…
I’m aware I have a lot of American readers (like, mostly American somehow) so just in case you’re not up to speed – the Tragically Hip is a Canadian rock band that is SUPER popular here in Canada. Strangely they don’t seem to have garnered much of a following outside of our country, but this means that we Canadians have been able to keep them to ourselves for all these years and we feel sort of protective towards them. They are ours. You might know Ahead By A Century.
Or maybe Bobcaygeon? Probably my favourite song to listen to at the cottage!
Ah, they just remind me of summers growing up.
Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Hip, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (an aggressive form of incurable brain cancer) back in December, and so they announced they were going to do a final Canadian tour this summer. They played three shows in Toronto a couple weeks ago and their last concert was Saturday night in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. I can’t imagine traveling and performing like Gord has been over the last couple months while suffering from brain cancer. Truly amazing.
Because this was such a big deal and so many people wanted to watch, the CBC (our national broadcaster, similar to NBC) decided to stream the concert live for the entire country. This bumped out Olympics prime time, and what I think is the most impressive thing, they streamed it without any commercials! CLASS. ACT. There were viewing parties all over the country, in bars, in parks, in homes, everywhere, and like a third of our entire population was watching live. Nuts! Our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was even there sporting a Hip shirt and a Canadian tuxedo! Here’s a good article about the whole thing. I think it was amazing that we can rally together like that for a rock band. It makes me very, very proud to be Canadian.
Anyway, so we were at Blue Rodeo and missed the Hip party. But that’s okay, we plan on watching it later and making a night of it. And Blue Rodeo was so good! They actually played Bobcaygeon in a very fitting (Blue Rodeo is also popular mostly in Canada, although maybe not quite on the same scale) and VERY emotional tribute to the Hip, while they showed CBC footage of the concert on their screens.
They also played Lost Together, my very very fave of theirs.
Evan and I slow danced during this and I was basically melting the entire time. Also Try, Hasn’t Hit Me Yet, and Five Days In May. So many of their hits. Hasn’t Hit Me Yet was also a pretty emotional experience, as it was the last song they played and this was the last concert Blue Rodeo would be playing with Bob Egan, their longtime pedal steel player (who is super impressive) because he’s leaving the band to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a librarian. I kid you not. They got the crowd to sing the first two verses of the song to Bob and you could just see him tearing up and ah. It was happy sad. I may have cried. You go fulfill your dreams and be the best librarian, Bob! Here’s that moment live (they actually start singing at about 2.40 in the below video):
Bob Egan SLAYS that steel!!! Evan and I loved them live and had such a good time.
We walked back through the CNE grounds when the concert was over, and it was all I could do to not get everything on these signs…
I heard there were deep fried Reese’s peanut butter cups and I wanted them so bad but I couldn’t find them anywhere! I’m going back next week so I am making it my mission to find them. Instead I got an ice cream cone. Maybe for the best.
I also really wanted a little Pikachu. Evan is really good at games, as you may know, so I thought this could actually happen…
We were wandering through the midway looking for a game Evan could easily win, when we came across the balloon darts game. Done. Evan was all “what do I have to do to win a Pikachu?” they gave him 8 darts and told him he needed to hit a balloon on every single throw. He not only did that, he got so cocky he started calling the balloons like he was playing pool. He’d be like “PINK! Bottom left! Yellow, top right!” I was dying. I got my Pikachu!
And then we went on the gondola ride that goes over the entire park.
He is not a ride fan so it’s the only one he’ll go on. Even that was almost too much for him, and it moves slowly! I get it, carnival rides arrive in a truck and are put together on site so I understand the apprehension about that (although I think the gondola is up all year). Gimme all the rides though, I love it. Minus the Zipper. No thanks.
It was quite the date night!