The “grand old lady of the (Toronto) waterfront” - the Canadian National Exhibition - has attracted millions of people for 135 years while continuing to age gracefully.
While many lament the loss of some attractions and appeal (including the “doggy, doggy” barker) of years gone by, she continues as one of Ontario’s great annual traditions.
This year’s 18-day run launches Aug. 16 and winds up on Sept. 2, 2013.
ZIPPING AND TIC TOCKING
The venerable Ex continues to evolve with new attractions, most of which are included with admission, and attracts 1.4-million visitors annually.
A highlight this year is the PC Financial ZipLine that offers a “bird’s eye view of The Ex” as it zips over the midway to the Direct Energy Centre, said Daniel St. Germaine, senior publicist. (For this thrill there’s a charge of $30; $20 opening day).
“We also pretty excited about Tic Toc, an aerial acrobatics performance show (free with admission),” he added.
This daily show was created by Cirque du Soleil veteran Daniel Cola and explores the theme of time, featuring acrobatics, trapeze and trampoline artists, jugglers and more.
“One of the big foodie highlights is the return of Bacon Nation and Epic Burger,” St. Germain said.
Both have created “some amazing and surprising things” such as peanut butter and bacon milkshakes and the Cronut Burger.
The Ex also hosts Food Network chefs including Bob Blumer, Nadia G., Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan and Michael Smith.
WHIPPED INTO A FRENZY
Ex visitors can whip themselves into a “fantastic frenzy” on the Mach 3 ride.
Equipped with a 37-metre-long arm, riders are whirled 360 degrees upside down and inside out as it rotates at up to 13 revolutions a minute with a g-force of Mach 3.5.
Other new shows include the Flying Wallendas, one of the greatest acts in circus history.
With daily shows, the Wallendas began as flying trapeze artists and are now known for an eight-person, three-level tightrope pyramid performed without safety devices.
There is also Cascade from France, called an “extraordinary stuntmen troupe,” and Mind Kontrol about “psychologically manipulating people's thoughts and ultimately messing with their minds.”
A garbage band called the Recycled Orchestra is made up of young people from Paraguay performing with instruments made from landfill waste in their city.
The 64th annual Canadian International Air Show will soar over Lake Ontario on Labour Day weekend featuring the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and acrobatic daredevil Mike Wiskus.
SOUNDS OF SUMMER
Summer sounds of the Beach Boys are among the featured performers at the Bandshell, performing with Brothers Dube on Aug. 18.
Other favourites, all free with admission, are beach blanket star Frankie Avalon on Aug. 29.
The Proclaimers are up on Aug. 16; New Pornographers with Cuff the Duke, Aug. 17; Elvis – If I Can Dream, featuring Steve Michaels (Kabakos), Aug. 20; Fab 5 with Jay Douglas and Pablo Paul, Aug. 21; 5th Dimension, Aug. 22; and Lou Gramm, the Voice of Foreigner, Aug. 23.
USS with ill Scarlett, Aug. 24; Dragonette and Dirty Radio, Aug. 25; Danny Fernandes, Massari and Mia Martina, Aug. 27; Big Wreck with the Reason, Aug. 28; Walk Off The Earth with Shawn Hook, Aug. 30; and Theory of a Deadman, Aug. 31.
NEED TO KNOW
The Ex is at Exhibition Place, Lakeshore Boulevard West and Strachan Avenue.
Hours are 10 a.m. to midnight (buildings close at 10 p.m.; 7 p.m. on Sept. 2) and until 10 p.m. on Labour Day.
Admission is $16, ages 14-59; $12, 60 and older and children, five-13 (free, younger) and $48 for a family for four. Opening day is $8 for all.
There are additional advance discounts online and on certain days/hours. theex.com; (416) 263-3800