I have many fond memories of the PNE growing up. Every summer, two weeks before school was back in session, my parents would take my twin sister and I to wander around the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) grounds. There was always so much to see: Superdogs, pig races, animals and more animals, rides and treats galore. There was so much to see that you almost couldn’t see it in a full day. We were always offered a couple treats each and we picked the same each year. I chose fudge, a delicious Fischer fair scone (it was a PNE favourite!) and a caramel apple. My sister would have the same, but instead of the caramel apple, she chose cotton candy. Those were the good days!
Sadly, gone are the days of the scones at the PNE, but this year I found another favourite. When we were in Waterton National Park earlier this summer, I discovered Reese’s BeaverTails. This year, I noticed BeaverTails at the PNE and had to have one. We ended up going for two days to keep the kids busy and away from their screens, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I indulged twice. BeaverTails are a line of fried dough pastries, individually hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail and topped with gooey goodness.
For the last few years I have really shunned the PNE. Most of what was there when I was younger is now gone — you barely see any live animals besides a few horses, chicks, ducks and a massive cow. There are no animals for the kids to really get up close to and learn about. So much was missing the last year we went that I didn’t have a reason to go again. Then I had kids and figured it was worth another chance after we had such a good time at the Calgary Stampede earlier this summer. A little disclaimer though, the Calgary Stampede is way closer to what the PNE was back in the day. Our experience there is what made me miss the PNE.
It is like a new page. The kids do not know what the PNE was; they know what it is today. While I see more value in the experiences I had back then, I was actually suprised at all there was for the kids to do — beyond rides. They liked seeing the few animals that were there, and that was part of the highlights for them. The Superdogs received tons of cheers and laughter, the pig races had them squealing with delight and a simple mechanical pig ride, much like the horse you probably rode outside your grocery store growing up, even filled their eyes with wonder and brought smiles. They even went crazy for the pretend Discovery Farm where they could “plant” a seed and pick up pretend fruits and veggies along the way at each activity.
On our second visit, it was Library day and the kids were even able to get in on some fun crafts, get a free book from the Canucks and have a visit from the Canucks’ mascot, Fin. It is all a learning experience, even if it doesn’t include more of getting their hands dirty in this day and age at the PNE. How times change! Change isn’t bad, we just miss the extra animals you could be surrounded by, admire and the atmosphere that came with it.
The PNE also has been getting a pretty impressive concert lineup that is included with your admission, unless you want to fork out extra cash for a reserved seat.
Take a look at some of our PNE highlights from this year at the Fair:
While the PNE may not be what it was years ago, you can still have an enjoyable day without breaking the bank too much — and we still managed to fill six hours without time being sucked away by standing in lines for rides. The kids had a lot of memorable experiences and we will now likely have to fit in a visit to the PNE each summer. BeaverTails better be there next year, too! It may be my new Fair favourite.