By N. Balani
Over the top food creations are a major attraction at The Ex. “Every year we have this little competition that goes on between the various chefs and concessions on site,” says the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE or The EX) CEO Virginia Ludy. “It never ceases to amaze me what they come up with.”
This year, after much deliberation, the big winner is the 24k gold-foil wrapped burger by Bacon Nation in the food building, which is fit for a King or Queen! Of course it comes with a hefty price tag at $100 for the larger version. If that does not suit your pocket then there is a smaller version at $24.95. Each is covered in edible 24-karat gold foil and is certainly a status symbol to be seen on social media delicately nibbling away at it!
Other food novelties include kimchi hotdogs and the very popular Big Pickle Tornado – a hotdog in a tortilla garnished with a pickle, cheese sauce and bacon. More intrepid foodies can go for the chocolate banana steakclair- a giant éclair stuffed with steak, banana, whipped cream, cheese and chocolate sauce.
The EX marks the beginning of the end of summer and is the quintessential outing for most Canadian families. It is all about the crowning creations of food, the rides and mid-way for the kids, the music concerts, the dog-show and craft stalls.
This year what sets it apart for the 140th year of CNE, is the art exhibit of Chinese silk lanterns to celebrate the China- Canada year of tourism and aptly named “Legends of the Silk Road Come to Light.”This unique art installation, the largest of its kind, brings to life a world of mythical creatures and fairytales along the ancient Silk Route and from Greek mythology.The awe-inspiring illuminated sculptures tower high above you and were created by 90 artists using 4,000 metres of synthetic silk, 55 metres of steel and were shipped in containers from China to Toronto! You are greeted by animatronics dragons breathing fire as you make your way through this incredible passageway. You can see Atlas holding the world, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel and the gingerbread house, Sinbad the Sailor, The Minotaur and the Maze, Pegasus, the Unicorn, Icarus, and so many more favorite childhood legends come to life!
As a salute to the sustainability and keeping it green, there is an art exhibit from Kenya – The Flip Flop sculptures- which are made of colourful abandoned flip flops retrieved from the oceans. These are then magically transformed by the artists into a kaleidoscope of animal sculptures. There is also a display of butter sculptures in a cool room where you can see the artist creating the masterpieces.
The CNE traditions are still there, of course, with a fantastic line up of concerts (please check schedules) and the crowd pleasers like the cat show, the dog show (line up early to avoid disappointment as seats are very limited!) and the closing day ceremonial air show. This year, for the first time ever, the air show will feature The Thunderbirds, from the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, a demonstration flight squad assigned to the U.S. Air Force. It is the only Canadian stop in their worldwide tour and is an absolute must see!
See you all out there to end another Toronto summer with a thundering roar!