The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) will be celebrating its 134th year in 2012 from August 17 to Sept. 3. The CNE takes place in the exhibition grounds next to Lake Ontario in Toronto and is affectionately known by local residents as the Great Dame. The huge fairground has been home to some of the hottest entertainers throughout the years as well as air shows and numerous other attractions including amusement rides and a fairway full of games.


The CNE basically gives kids and families a last chance to have a blast of fun before school starts up again just after Labour Day. Some of the most popular attractions inside the fair include bumper cars, roller coasters, the haunted house, and the circus sideshows. There are plenty of buskers to keep you entertained as well as delicious carnival treats such as snow cones, candy floss, and candy apples.

If it sounds like it’s one of the best fairs in Canada, you’re right. It’s actually the biggest in the nation and has been since it opened its doors for the first time way back in 1879. A total of 1.3 million fair goers enjoyed the CNE in 2011, making it one of North America’s top-10 fairgrounds. The exhibition adds new twists to it every year in the way of performers, exhibits, and attractions, but it always stays true to its century-old roots.

Some of the oldest traditions at the fair include a competition known as the Ambassador of the Fairs, the PeeWee Baseball Tournament, a casino for roulette and card games and farm animal and horse shows. However, the most popular show of all could very well be the Canadian International Air Show. This will be the 63rd version of the air show and it features aircraft entertaining the crowds below as they maneuver in the air over the deep blue waters of Lake Ontario.

The CNE grounds used to be the home to Exhibition Stadium, where Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays used to play. The stadium also used to host some of the biggest names in the entertainment world before it was torn down. However, the CNE Bandshell is still in use and it features smaller musical acts every year. The 2012 lineup includes Nick Carter, Big Sugar, the Boogie Wonder Band, The Spinners, Freddie McGregor, Don McLean, the Arkells, Trooper, Herman’s Hermits, the Tea Party, and Paul Revere and the Raiders.

This year’s fair will also feature an ice skating extravaganza with Olympic gold medalists Elvis Stojko, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue. A food frenzy will be on display where you can try out different fairground treats from 17 food trucks. If you’d rather have more refined cuisine you can visit the exhibition’s Food Building. This features sample menus from around the world as well as about a dozen gourmet food vendors.

Music lovers will be thrilled with the new exhibit this summer which pays tribute to the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rolling stones as these historic bands celebrate 50 years in the business. The display will include memorabilia, personal items, and photos of the musical groups. Other events this year include a recreation of the Battle of York, which was one of the War of 1812’s bloodiest battles.

You’ll find fun events for the whole family at the CNE and if it remains as popular as it always has been, there’s a good chance it’ll still be around in another 100 years.


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