CNE 2013: Bacon Everything, Better Rides and Amazing Acrobats

Love it or hate it, it’s that time of year again: The Ex. Earlier this morning, we hit the Canadian Exhibition Grounds for a sneak peek of what we can expect when Toronto’s historic fair opens to the public on Friday. Fine, a day at the CNE is guaranteed to be gluttonous, grimy and potentially unforgiving on the wallet – but it’s just so much fun. Here’s why you may want to check out the 2013 CNE for yourself. 

The ZipLine Rush:
Think the rides at the CNE are for amateur thrill seekers? New this year is the exhilarating President’s Choice Financial ZipLine. Definitely fear-inducing for those afraid of heights, it requires a steep climb (thankfully via enclosed stairs) before you careen down more than 1,100 feet over the midway. Be warned: you’ll have to cough up $30 if you wish to ride. The plus side? You can book ahead at

The Bacon:
This year is even more all about bacon. Among seemingly limitless options, this includes Epic’s Maple Bacon “Cronut” inspired burger – a cronut (cross between a croissant and a doughnut) rolled in cinnamon sugar, sliced in half, filled with a beef patty with cheese and topped with homemade maple bacon jam. Then there is Just Cone It’s “Spice Cream Cone.” In a blend of sweet, salty and spicy, the cone is filled with Nutella, vanilla ice cream, chili peppers and topped with generous chunks of bacon. Another crowd pleaser for the bacon lover is Bacon Nation’s All Bacon Canuck burger, served on an all-bacon bun, topped off with two trips of bacon and one slice of thick-cut peameal bacon. You’re welcome. 

The Shamelessly Indulgent Veggie Eats:
If bacon isn’t your thing, you’ll still be covered. Our favourite veggie-friendly eats are numerous. The highlights? Spread’s Nutella-covered sweet potato fries seasoned with icing sugar and sea salt; Wild Child’s vegan and gluten-free nachos (seriously delish); chocolate hazelnut gelato in a panini-pressed brioche from Sweet Escapes; and an assortment of veggie-friendly treats from Thyme and Olives Lebanese bakery, like their Spinach and Feta Pie. For the health conscious, not to worry, the CNE also promises no shortage of raw, organic and vegan (seriously).

The Trippy Circus Acts:
We couldn’t control our hair in this morning’s wind, let alone imagine walking on a tightrope like the famed Flying Wallendas did today. As one of the greatest acts in circus history, the Wallenda family will make you nervous with its record-setting, 8-person, 3-level tightrope pyramid… performed without the use of safety devices. As self-proclaimed circus fiends, we also look forward to Tic Toc, the show filled with acrobats, trapeze and trampoline artists and jugglers created by Cirque du Soleil veteran Daniel Cola.

The Mind-Bending Magic:
This year, “Mind Control” offers a magic-filled show focused on manipulating people’s thoughts and messing with their minds… because we could all stand to learn more about that, right? The show offers a blend of comedy, magic and psychological illusions and stars international award-winning magician Mike D’Urzo.

The Celeb Chefs:
Because we can’t get enough of them these days, this year the CNE will host some of Canada’s top chefs at the Food Network Celebrity Stage. Among them are Bob Blumer, Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan, Michael Smith and Nadia G.

The Food Truck Frenzy:
We all love a little food truck in our lives. From Friday, August 23, to Sunday, August 25, the Food Truck Frenzy returns to serve up all of your favourite eats from an assortment of vendors.

The Music:
Throughout the CNE, some surprisingly enticing acts will hit the Bandshell, like The Beach Boys and Brothers Dube (come on, could be fun after a few beers), Dragonette and Dirty Radio, Danny Fernandes, Walk off the Earth and Theory of a Deadman.

The Late Night Mach 3 Ride:
You may want to eat (aka stuff your face) after you hit this brand new ride, the Mach 3. A 37-metre arm whirls riders 360 degrees inside out and upside down, at up to 13 revolutions per minute, producing a G-force of 3.5. For the strong-stomached set who wish to “save it for last,” the 37-metre tower is adorned with LED lights and offers a light-filled (and upside down) view of the fair once the sun goes down. We dare you…

The CNE’s Small Eco Footprint:
Finally, an event of scale and scope of the CNE only leads one to speculate about the amount of waste that is produced in its wake. Fear not, for the past three consecutive fairs the CNE has been awarded the Eco Logo certification, conforming it as the “greenest” fair in North America and the most “environmentally friendly” large-scale event in the country. Furthermore, this year the CNE will donate any extra food to the Salvation Army. 

Founded in 1897, The Canadian National Exhibition is one of the top 10 exhibitions in North America and has been a quintessential part of the summer for Ontario residents since childhood. It runs Friday, August 16th, to Monday, September 2nd, 2013.

Cover image by: Scooter Korek