My home could not be construed as traditional in any sense of the word, but nonetheless my daughter and I do have a few sacred traditions, one of which is our annual marathon day at the PNE – the Pacific National Exhibition. We have been going from gate open to gate close for more years now than I really care to remember; it’s a day we plan carefully and put aside to spend together every year. This year that day was yesterday as we set off to spend a day eating unbelievably bad food and seeing the cheesiest of sideshow acts. Awesome. When she was younger we spent a lot of time riding the Midway – that carnival of excess – but fortunately she has taken pity on me and now saves that for her friends. The year that Hell’s Gate was the new ride, we decided to see how many times we could ride it consecutively . . .and no, I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea. But we got to seven rides before I called uncle and heading for a trash bin . . . nuff said.
Now we plan our day around Superdogs, Evolution of Extreme and a Summer Night Concert, with a hefty dose of Market Place thrown in for variety. What can you say about Superdogs – the awesomest, cheesiest dog show ever. Every year we wait to see what Gary Glitter suit Richard comes out in – it was a bit disappointing this year – blue blazer and white flannels – but maybe his new sponsor, President’s Choice, put the hammer down on his flamboyant outfits. Too bad, but the dogs rocked.
Next up was a visit to Evolution of Extreme, the extreme motocross show with guys flying 75 feet through the air, doing back flips on motocross bikes. A couple of years ago they added extreme ATV’s – a bit weird but ok. Then this year they added extreme Snowmobiles – I’m not kidding. In 30 degree heat they were flying snowmobiles off of ramps, across jumps and doing back flips with them. That’s just plain crazy. My daughter and I sat there, equally thrilled and horrified, both of us thinking “please don’t let this be the show that ends badly” – because they do, quite regularly.
A little break was in order, so it was off to Market Place to see what “as seen on TV” slice and dice ’em specials could be had this year. Sad to say the infamous “Shake Weights” are gone . . .so sad. And since we are already the proud owners of (maybe more than) or fair share of ShamWow’s (those cloths are fantastic and last forever) brooms and mops we were on the hunt for something new and fantastic. I ended up with a set of Pony O’s – wait to be amazed and thrilled by the stunning new hairdo’s you are going to see soon, and just be thankful we came to our senses and did not buy the press-on “glamour” eye shadow stickers!! But it’s not all kitsch and useless crap; I”m a big proponent of an all natural, locally made cleaner called Pink Solution that I first picked up at the Fair a few years ago and now use for everything from laundry to dog shampoo to degreasing the carport – it’s fantastic, and eco-friendly. Love it.
Eating junk is a HUGE part of going to the PNE and I think I managed to horrify more than a few of my friends by posting pic’s of the delicacies I was enjoying – dinner was a Crazy Dog (it WAS veggie) and a deep-fried Mars bar – truly not my usual organic, vegetarian fare. But it’s all part of the lowbrow entertainment that is the Fair, so we throw ourselves into it with gusto.
My lovely girl is old enough now (yeah!!) that we could wind up our day enjoying a refreshing beverage in the beer garden while watching the evening concert by the Stereos. The cuties from Edmonton were our pick for the best concert of the series and they put on a great show – all the LG’s loved them 🙂 Though I have serious suspicions about what was really in those water bottles, given all the on-stage chatter about heading to Granville Street to party, and I’m guessing that Roxy lived up to its reputation last night!!
I was contemplating as I was writing what is so fascinating for me about the Fair and I think it’s all that tawdry glitter pastiched onto a seedy, dirty and sometimes desperate underbelly. The acts are, for the most part, second-rate – I’ll give a pass to the Stereos and Hedley the year we saw them – even Jake’s famous dropping of trou and BA’ing the crowd seemed like an appropriate response in the circumstances. Most of the other musical entertainment is, at best, C List. And that’s without even going into the “Tribute Beer Garden” which is devoted full-time to tribute acts . . Nearly Neal, Almost Abba a Bon Jovi act and last nights Led Zeppelin tribute. The hucksters in the Market are telemarketers live and in person – the sales pitches there are hilarious, but at the same time they are both desperately trying to make a sale and brazenly taking us all for suckers – and we play along and buy the crap. There are the games of “No Chance” as my daughter and I call them on the Midway – pony up your $5, usually lose and maybe if you are lucky win a truly awful stuffed animal? There is no rational explanation for the attraction of any of this, though if you have one I’d love to hear it.
If you find the world of carnivals and circuses as fascinating as me, you might want to pick up a copy of “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn. Water for Elephants this is not, although that is also an excellent book. But I doubt that anyone (well except maybe David Cronenberg) would be making a movie out of this one.