Thursday, September 3, 2009

A day at the fair

I went to The Ex yesterday. I don't know why. I just feel compelled every year at this time to visit the CNE. I've been doing that for 60 years, so I guess it's mostly nostalgia that keeps me going back. I expect the swallows feel this way about Capistrano.

There is no rational reason to go. The thing is on life support, and has been for many years, ever since it ceased being Canada's biggest fall fair and became a place to buy belts and socks. This year, even the merchants in the international market were obviously dejected by the trickle of disinterested fairgoers wandering past their booths. I predict there will be fewer of both next year.

Long gone are the days when car manufacturers rolled out their new models to great excitement at the Automotive Building, when the Better Living Centre dazzled us with the latest gizmos for the home, or when everyone took in the big stars and the Helldrivers at the grandstand show. The Percherons and the Morgans have left the Horse Palace. The agricultural competitions have pretty much disappeared. The Horticultural Building is fenced off, and apparently vacant. There are no more water-ski shows down by the lake. The sleezy old side shows have faded into history. The midway survives, but holds little interest for the grey-hairs who constitute most of the mid-week crowd.

The whole event needs to be completely reinvented, not just patched up to survive yet another year, but it seems that the bureaucrats have run out of ideas.

Maybe it's time to acknowledge that, at 131 years, she has lived long enough. Looks like it's time to issue a DNR order that allows the "grand old lady by the lake" to go quietly without suffering any more indignities.

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