Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let's go to the Ex

That's the theme song heard every year at this time advertising the Canadian National Exhibition - better known by one and all as the CNE or just simply "the Ex." Eighteen days leading up to Labour Day, the Ex opens up and everyone knows that the summer holidays will soon be over and school will then begin. It's the last chance teenagers have of obtaining a summer job - even for a couple of weeks. The last day of the Ex is always Labour Day and then the first day of school falls the next day. Always has been. My children went every year - with or without the parents - until other things became more important. When my sons (and my eldest daughter) were older, they volunteered as Scouts (Venturers) and helped push wheelchair patrons around the grounds. Free transit tickets to get to the Ex, free admission and free food is what they got in return. To young teenagers it was a lot of fun. One day was usually Kids Day and that was a very crowded day. I think we avoided attending then. It has changed over the years but the smells are same - fried onions, hot dogs, cotton candy... This year of course, they had deep fried butter (no kidding), deep fried Twinkies and several other deep fried concoctions. My youngest son Eric actually had a Krispie Kreme hamburger -  said to be about 1500 calories.

Note: photo stolen taken without permission (I'll get it later.)

The reason for this post is to bring you all down memory lane. Last night my husband, my daughter, her boyfriend and myself went to the Ex to watch Neil Sedaka. He was singing in an outdoor venue called the Bandshell. The concert was free with the purchase of your entry to the CNE grounds but because my daughter has connections, the tickets were free. It was a great night weather-wise and the music was truly wonderful. Neil Sedaka's Greatest Hits was the very first LP I bought as a young girl. I listened to it constantly and new all the songs.

This was taken just now. It wasn't hard to find the record because it was the first one in my record box.

Not a good photo since my daughter's boyfriend didn't have a zoom on his camera. All of these next photos were taken by my daughter Maili.

Luckily, they had big screens.

Neil Sedaka's older now (who isn't), but his voice is still good.

He sang some oldies.

And he sang some new songs that he had composed only two weeks ago.

We didn't have seats - we stood but that was OK. You could move to the music better then. The concert started at 7:30 p.m. and it was still light out. By the time it ended, at around 9:00 p.m., it was getting dark. We left the area and headed to the Midway then.


Stuffed things to be won. My daughter and I wondered what happened to all the stuffed toys once they got to their new home. Really, what does one do with them? We saw two not-too-big men carrying a huge stuffed monkey with a banana. I guess their girlfriends were impressed. The thing was just as big if not bigger than they were. Comical it was.

Lots of games of chance and people just waiting to take your money.

A ring toss that my daughter decided to try for. 5 rings for each of us to try our luck. I didn't bother and nothing was won. Those are all small glass bottles with taller gold coloured bottles. I guess you get a bigger, better prize if your ring lands around its neck.

This is a ride that goes up slowly and then plunges towards the ground quickly - ending softly at the bottom.

Colourful Ferris Wheel.

Another ride.

Lots of lights.

Lots of food stands.

Lots of people. The faint purple light in the middle of the photo is the CN Tower.

Lots to see with a lot of walking.

My daughter checking out the magic mirror - making her short and squat.

We split a waffle with ice cream. It was good and refreshing.

Strange names for rides.

And lastly, the Conklin Clown. It's the Conklin Group that operate the rides at the Ex.

We didn't go into any of the buildings because it was late. We headed home after touring the midway. I always liked the horse palace and looking at the farm animals and the butter sculpture but things are now changed and I don't know if they even have horses anymore. Sometimes it's OK to change things but sometimes they should just leave things alone. I miss the old Ex.


  1. Thank you for this - it's been years since I've been to the Ex. I'm sure it's changed a lot but some things will remain the same. Great fun anyway!

  2. Oh that looks like such a fun day! It reminds me of our old state fair. The animals and the craft house were my favorites. The only place I've ever milked a cow, lol - and saw my first Appaloosa. Our state fair was the oldest in the country, and our old governor shut it down. Makes me want to cry. You knew it was still summer if the fair was on.

  3. Hi Dolores,

    Looks like you had a fun time there.
    Always great to go to a Fair and yes, the smells of the food and the squeals of excitement from the rides, brought back happy memories for me.
    Deep fried butter? well that really does sound bad for one.
    I enjoyed seeing your photos.

    Happy Sunday

  4. Years ago we lived in Springfield, Illinois and had a lot of fun at the Illinois State Fair every year - you've brought back many happy memories for me.

  5. do you remember making Tely Funcheques...from the now defuct Toronto Telegram??? The coupons that got you extra tickets for rides? The end of summer always saw us in someones backyard using carbon paper to increase our output of coupons. Of course we always slipped in a few blanks and then sweated when the ticket takers flipped through our massive pile of copies. You bropught back such vivid memories for me. I worked at the ex the summer I was 15 selling velvet paintings, coonskin hats and conestoga wagon eh? I live north of T.O. now and go to our local fall fair on Lsabour Day weekend but I always compare it to the Ex, obviously no contest. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Hi Delores, Yes I can remembcer the EX. Haven't been in years. I can still smell those fried donut, candyfloss and hear the squeals coming from the rides.
    I remember the food building where you could eat free on the samplings. I also enjoyed the farm animals. Times change and so so we.

  7. Dum dooby do down down,
    Comma comma dum dooby do down down...

    Just had to share the earworm. :-)
    Thank you for the memories!

  8. Very nice post, Dolores. You had some fun with your daughter. And thank you for your comment on my inchie "change". It IS interesting what everybody has in mind with those themes.
    Your "change" with the baby is good!

  9. My parents never brought us there when we were growing up so it wasn't until Shawn was 4 years old that I finally got to go. We were visiting my youngest brother Guy when he was living in Toronto and he brought us to the Ex...loved my first...and only....experience:-) Just haven't had an opportunity to go again but I can well imagine how much it's changed. These things always do and sometimes not for the better!! Loved seeing all of your pictures and how wonderful that you got to see Neil Sedaka, I hadn't heard of him in years. xoxo


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