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Sports & Play

CNE Toronto 2012

Posted by Robyn Urback / August 15, 2012

toronto cne 2012The 2012 Toronto CNE is poised to fill you with fried butter and teach you about military history, because what better way is there to wrap up the summer? This year's Exhibition will kick off on August 17, bringing with it new bacon-focused food stalls and star-laced ice dancing performances. Also new this year is an exhibit that showcases the role of the grounds in the war of 1812. Plenty of old favourites are returning, too (no, I'm not referring to the concert lineup), with ticket and pricing information available here.

Here are some highlights for the 2012 CNE


Aerial Acrobatics & Ice Skating Show
A show that will feature Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, 2010 Olympic gold medalists and 2012 World Championship gold medalists for ice dancing. Needless to say, this show promises to be good (just so long as you're not prone to spontaneous inferiority complexes). Elvis Stojko will also make appearances for the final three days of the show.

Illusionist Ted Outerbridge
Ready to make his CNE debut, Ted Outerbridge will be performing his illusions twice daily throughout the duration of the Exhibition. Illusions, not tricks. Outerbridge has been hailed as one of the most successful magicians in Canada, and he certainly knows how to put on a show

Comedic Hypnotist Terrance B
Another CNE first-timer all the way from across the pond. Terrance B will be hosting his show at the Variety Stage two times each afternoon, combining comedy and people in trance-like states, and comedy derived from people in trance-like states.

Air Show
To the chagrin of downtown condo-dwellers and delight of aviation-enthusiasts, the Canadian International Air Show returns to the CNE for the 63rd time this year. The show has been tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on each day of the Labour Day weekend.

toronto cne 2012FOOD and DRINK

Can the CNE really top the ostentatious show of gluttony that was the doughnut cheeseburger of yesteryear? It looks like it might try (though fear not; the doughnut cheeseburger and its deep-fried Coke and deep-fried butter compadres will be back). Behold some of the new food stalls of indulgence:

Bacon Nation
I expect lineups. This stall will offer everything bacon (obviously), including deep-fried bacon-covered hotdogs, bacon sundaes, bacon popcorn, and sandwiches of Nutella bacon and Jack Daniels bacon. Not kosher.

Also obviously named, and sure to garner a crowd. PULL'D will be the one stall satiating cravings we never knew we had, such as pulled pork on a pancake or pulled beef on a pretzel bun. Because why the hell not, right?

Just Cone It!
We all know food tastes better on a stick. But in a cone? This stall will offer sweet and savoury cones, with unusual options (of course) such as shepherd's pie and Philly cheese steak. You can also opt to create your own cone.

What fun would deep-fried-bacon-everything be without at least one stall to make you feel guilty. Vie will boast a lineup of unprocessed, raw, organic vegan foods including pizza, wraps, salads and desserts. Their slogan might as well be, "Hey you over there with the deep fried butter: your choices are bad and you should feel bad."

Food Truck Frenzy
Seventeen food trucks all in a row: call it the beginning of a food-loving fairytale. This "Food Truck Frenzy" will be held from August 24-26, on Princes' Boulevard in front of the Allstream and Direct Energy Centres.

Food Network Celebrity Stage
The Celebrity Stage returns this year with a stellar lineup that includes celebrity chefs and bakers such as Marc Thuet, Anna Olson, Dufflet Rosenberg, and Victor Barry.

toronto cne 2012CONCERTS and MUSIC

Here's just a glimpse of some of the live performances on this year's CNE roster. There'll be more vintage acts than performers du jour (as is typical for the CNE), but a superb lineup nonetheless. All concerts are free with admission.

Nick Carter with Andrew Allen — Bandshell Park, Aug 19, 7:30 p.m.
Time to relive those just-won't-die Backstreet Boys days with a solo performance by Nick Carter. Nick just released an album titled "I'm Taking Off," which practically begs for some sort of snide remark. I'll refrain.

Freddie McGregor — Bandshell Park, Aug 22, 7:30 p.m.
About time the Bandshell got a little reggae. Freddie McGregor will be making his CNE debut in celebration of 50 years of Jamaican independence.

The Spinners — Bandshell Park, Aug 23, 7:30 p.m.
Rained out last year, and back for another go, these guys were doing R&B vocal harmonies long before Boyz II Men made it "cool." Are you ready for love?

Don McLean — Bandshell Park, Aug 24, 7:30 p.m.
The legend himself, a stone's throw from the candy floss machine and guy trying to sell you basket tosses for $2. Whatever — it's Don McLean; I'd wade through it all to hear "Vincent" live.

Trooper with Poor Young Things — Bandshell Park, Aug 25, 7:30 p.m.
Some good old Canadian rock nostalgia for ya. Certainly will "Raise a Little Hell," as they say.

The Tea Party — Bandshell Park, August 31, 7:30 p.m.
On the heels of a series of rave-reviewed shows across Canada, The Tea Party is stopping in at the CNE to ride (or prod) the wave. Then it's on to Australia to continue the reunion tour.

Rising Star Talent Finals — Bandshell Park, September 2, 7:30 p.m.
Always a huge hit, and back for its 26th year. Wannabe stars will perform for prize money and a chance to compete at the Canadian Youth Talent Competition in Winnipeg. It's just like American Idol without the inane Jennifer Lopez interruptions.

Tribute Bands — Midway Stage, Various times
The next best thing to actually seeing Tina Turner, Kiss, The Police, or the Eagles. No, well, the next best thing is probably blasting "Hotel California" poolside with a group of your closest friends, but this will do. Click here for the full Midway schedule.

toronto cne 2012CULTURE

Battleground CNE: The Military History of the CNE Grounds
Before it was midway rides and candy apples, the CNE grounds actually played host to the Battle of York, one of the most ruthless battles of the War of 1812. The Battleground CNE exhibit explores the impact of war on the site, with a special emphasis on the War of 1812 (since 2012 marks the 200th anniversary). Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Remember When Pavilion at the Direct Energy Centre.

Rock 'n Roll Will Never Die
That may be so, but those damn Jonas Brothers sure gave it a run for its money. In any case, this exhibit explores the history of rock 'n roll from the last 50 years, boasting rare photos and memorabilia from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Hall A of the Direct Energy Centre.

The CNE runs August 17-September 3.

Lead photo by DdotG (1 and 2), Roger Cullman, and Jesse Milns



mike in parkdale / August 15, 2012 at 03:13 pm
another year, another collection of "slow exposures at night"

I'm just stoked the skyrider is back, kinda.
Cyril Sneer / August 15, 2012 at 03:37 pm
Nick Carter is still around?
HearYeHearYe / August 15, 2012 at 03:48 pm
Single Mothers of Toronto, you're carnival is back!!!
lastfm / August 15, 2012 at 04:00 pm
Big Sugar play this Saturday at the Bandshell
Hoorayforme / August 15, 2012 at 04:32 pm
My arteries can't wait the harden/clog/explode
Sean / August 15, 2012 at 05:03 pm
CNE too expen$ive, now that they closed Ontario Place. Give us at least a 50% discount if they want us there.
Odds? / August 15, 2012 at 05:30 pm
Over/Under on 2 shootings...??
Brad / August 15, 2012 at 07:08 pm
Discounted tickets link does not work
elizabeth / August 15, 2012 at 07:36 pm
Why isn't that deep fried photo labeled? What is it???
Alicia / August 15, 2012 at 08:49 pm
What is the food picture of?
hellsbells / August 15, 2012 at 09:12 pm
Deep fried snickers or mars bars on a stick!
lines replying to a comment from Odds? / August 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm
that's terrible linemaking. i'd set it at 0.5, with heavily juiced on the over.

OV 0.5 -180
UN 0.5 +120
Rick / August 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm
No thanks.

Hopefully this will be the last year of this non-sense. Way over priced, way too much trailer trash carney's, and hood's crawling all over the place.
MrsP replying to a comment from Rick / August 16, 2012 at 03:13 am
don't forget the ENTIRE BUILDING FULL of 'As Seen On Tv' junk!

Totally worth the admission!
Rick / August 16, 2012 at 03:52 am
The Birthday Game. Always fun.
quitcomplaining replying to a comment from Rick / August 16, 2012 at 06:52 am
Awww, does someone never win any prizes?

The EX is a Toronto tradition; if you don't like it, move to Mississauga.
Steve / August 16, 2012 at 08:11 am
Where's the credit for using my photo of the ferris wheel?
Steve / August 16, 2012 at 08:11 am
Where's the credit for using my photo of the ferris wheel?
BigSugarGirl / August 17, 2012 at 04:30 pm
Don't forget Big Sugar at the Bandshell Saturday night!
JOHN / August 18, 2012 at 03:48 pm
So, the CNE (Canadian Nauseating Exhibition) has opened it's doors for the annual two week fling at taking advantage of people. This overrated abortion of a carnival is one total disgrace. Carny cons waiting to exploit people and relieve them of their hard earned money and if that's not bad enough, then they offer up their deep fried sebaceous garbage, that they have the audacity to call food, to clog up your arteries.
Two weeks ago, Rob Ford cut up two complimentary tickets for the CNE; I have no use for Rob Ford, but even he saw that this place is nothing more than a dump masquerating as an exhibition, to take advantage of people. The only thing that's worth anything, is the air show. However, the real show is watching this dump ripping people off.
pat bisset / August 21, 2012 at 05:52 pm
Still have to whack a mole every year and i'm 65
Joan Semple replying to a comment from Steve / August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm
Ummm, yeah. I'd say you're right Steve, that sure looks like the same photo. Hey CNE - If you're going to use some one else's material, at least credit it appropriately.
Adina / August 27, 2012 at 09:41 pm
We took 5 kids there this year - all under 11 and they had a blast. I was impressed at how relatively kid and parent friendly it was. Washrooms were clean. Lineups were short and there was something there for a range of ages - we had kids ages 2 to 11 with us and they all had fun on the rides and won prizes - huge tedy bears with the games. We did spend alot of money- everything is pretty expensive - avg ride or game is 4 to 6 tix = $4 - $6! Plus parking was $25 per car, plus admission. So it wasn't cheap. But there were really cool free attractions too like the shows, circus school for prechoolers, a farm/ petting zoo, plus army airplanes kids can sit in and take pictures, a surfing show, sand castle contest, cat show, dog show, horse show, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised also at the baby care center which was clean, air conditioned and had free diapers. I didnt get to try the gourmet food trucks cuz i was with my kids... But i really wanted to. The ex needs to do a better Job promoting to parents of young kids. Even though it was expensive, you still get alot of fun and entertainment for your dollar.
CC replying to a comment from JOHN / August 29, 2012 at 11:57 am
totally agree
Pete / September 2, 2012 at 02:06 am
You can't go home again......

The last time I went to the Ex was 1988 before moving to Calgary. All the while out west I missed my summer tradition of going to The Ex. Now, living back in Ontario as of fall 2011 I thought I would make the long awaited trip to see what was happening with the 2012 edition. I KNOW things change but how drastically they would, I had no idea. It was definitely one of the most disappointing days of my life. Changes?

Grandstand gone
Shell/Bulova tower gone
Horse Building closed (horses and animals in the Better Living Centre, are you freaking kidding me?)
Automotive Building closed
Carlsberg Pavilion now a restaurant
Ontario Place closed
Centennial Square gone
Food building a mere shadow of it's once fun self.
Hobby Building gone with its contents crammed into the former Hockey Hall of Fame. (Where did the trains go?)

All this coupled with crowds the like I had never experienced before being caught in some kind of stop-and-go shuffle step in overcrowded buildings and outdoor areas made this a truly sad experience.

The Ex I knew and loved vanished a long time ago and now I know I will never be back again to see what is now a a mere shell of it's former greatness.

Goodbye old girl, I knew ye well.

nino / July 11, 2013 at 03:57 pm
Heres some codes for discounts

CNE TheEX 2013 coupon corporate codes
Other Cities: Montreal