Tag Archives: CNE

Blue Rodeo and CNE Date Night

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!!!

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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.

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That churro cheeseburger might be new though. And pizza in a cone.

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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.

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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!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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!

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And then we went on the gondola ride that goes over the entire park.

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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!

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The Ex Adventures

So if you are not from Canada you probably would not know this, but every year in the few weeks leading up to and including Labour Day weekend, there is a huge event downtown Toronto called the Canadian National Exhibition, or the CNE, or just “the Ex”.

It is basically a fair on steroids. Actually, it is exactly like the Calgary Stampede, only without the cowboys. And without the stampede.

I have not been to the CNE for years and years. The last time I was there I think was about 20 years ago when my cheeky little nanny took me. But earlier this week my friend Hannah texted me and asked me if I wanted to go with her, and we lured in my friend Joanna as well. So yesterday we hit up the Ex.

Let’s just get the food thing out of the way first because hooooooly crap. The food was ridiculous. One thing I regret about visiting the Calgary Stampede was holding back in the food department. I made a pact with myself to make it up at the CNE. There were so many choices that I was legitimately overwhelmed.

There were a ton of food stations throughout the grounds.

And THEN there was an entire building just dedicated to food. Every food imaginable. Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Indian, European, Canadian, American, Thai, Greek, Jamaican, Mexican, just everything. All the food in the world!

My senses were on overload. I didn’t know what to get! And I had to eat things I wouldn’t get on a regular basis. And I obviously had to go to town. But I knew I didn’t want pizza in a cone. And I’m not sure if I’m down with this new bacon sundae, or bacon on cupcakes thing. I love bacon, but not with sweet stuff.

SO. Over the course of the day I stopped by the Poutinerie and got a Mexican poutine which included fries, ground beef, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and jalapenos.

It was pretty good, but I think I just prefer regular poutine. I was jealous of Hannah’s “Canadian” poutine, which included fries, gravy, cheese and BACON.

And Joanna opted for jerk chicken, fried plantains and pierogies from the Jamaican and European food booths.

Also consumed later in the day was a deep fried onion, which I split with Jo.

We had been seeing people walking around with that thing all day and were intrigued to try it out. It was pretty good, but possibly a bit overrated. We couldn’t finish it. We were both done with the onion after a few bites and kind of just kept eating out of obligation.

Good thing I had a 99 cent spaghetti to supplement that.

Plus 59 cents for parmesan cheese. Spaghetti for $1.60? Well alright then.

And rounding out my meals for the day was birthday cake remix ice cream from Coldstone Creamery.

Which is vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate cake and sprinkles, with fudge on top. I loooooved it.

And also a cake pop. Because I saw them and I just can’t resist their deliciousness.

So it was not a healthy day of eating, I will just say. But we walked around for about seven hours so I feel like that must counteract a little. Right?!

The great thing about the CNE is that once you are in, pretty much everything is free. So besides eating we went to the farm building, where all the animals hang out.

So many babies! I was dying over the baby sheep and pigs. I want one of each as a pet. Winnie needs a friend.

And I saw family members of my attacker from the other day…

Ugh. Bees. But I do love honey…

There were a bunch of shows going on, so we stopped by the illusionist and the hypnotist for a bit, and I have to say that both were pretty awesome. The illusionist got me with his magic many times, and I’m pretty sure the people on stage with the hypnotist were actually hypnotized.

He convinced one kid that he was Justin Bieber, and he was a pretty hilariously convincing Justin. Though his singing was terrible.

Oh and Jo, Hannah and I made friends with some firefighters.

They gave us junior firefighter stickers and let us pretend to drive the truck.

We felt all important. You are never too old to make friends with the firefighters, in my opinion.

Hannah had to leave relatively early, so Jo and I met up with our friend Lisa and her daughter Ella for some ride adventures in the afternoon.

I had originally not planned on going on any rides at all, but Ella wanted to go on alllllll the rides, so Jo and I ended up getting wristbands, and we were game. We went on all the rides.

Well maybe not all the rides, but at least 20. A lot of them I hadn’t been on since I was a kid, like the stupid Zipper.

I used to HATE the Zipper. It was my nightmare. I can still picture myself on it when I was about eight and just hating my life. I thought I could overcome my fear of it, so I went on it. If anything though, my fear was just intensified. That ride is horrible. I hated every minute of it. Joanna and I were both like “WORST. RIDE. EVER.” as soon as we got off. Never again.

But the fun houses were super fun.

And we went on the giant slide about five times.

My stomach is definitely not as young as it used to be though. It can’t handle going on rides all day as well as eating like crap, and by the time I got home I was feeling pretty blah. Oh well, it was fun and delicious, so all good.

After our ride adventures we went to this acrobatic ice show, which was pretty cool and I found myself really enjoying it. When we came out we found ourselves in the middle of a parade, and Ella got to bang on some man’s drum for a bit.

And that was pretty much it. It started to get insanely busy at around 7pm, so we decided we had enough of the Ex and hightailed it out of there. But it was a fun day for sure. The Ex is running until Monday, so if you’re in Toronto, hit that up!

I hope you guys all have a great long weekend!

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