Yesterday we went to The Fair. Or the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition). Or the Fair at the PNE. Whatever. It was fun.
(from a big sand sculpture)
Unlike the Brisbane EKKA, there were no showbags, strawberry sundaes or exhibitions for flowers, crafts, photos, etc. Instead there was a big warehouse full of “as-seen-on-TV” products with lots of sales people enthusiastically delivering their demonstrations to unsuspecting fair goers. Or maybe not so unsuspecting since, if you enter ‘the Marketplace’, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Actually, come to think of it, the Marketplace is a lot like the Showbag Pavilion. There were about as many people pushing and shoving their way from stand to stand. And the sellers seemed pretty successful… fair goers don’t just go to the Marketplace to point and giggle like we did, they actually come to buy miracle glue, garlic slicers, fingernail print kits, hot tubs, steam cleaners, wonder chamois, wooden model dinosaur skeletons and Aunty Marge’s fudge — which I hear is probably the world’s best.
At another stall Burfit accidentally backed into a sign (a big bit of card on an easel, placed right at the front of the stall) and quickly apologised to the nearby sales lady. He commented lightheartedly, “that must happen all the time” – a fair observation, I thought. If you put a bit of cardboard out near an ocean of people, you really shouldn’t be too surprised if it gets caught in the current. But no.
“No, you’re the first one. You get the prize”.
He didn’t get a prize.
Moving on we spent a fair amount of time in “Safeway Farm Country”. We said hello to horses, sheep, water buffalo, cows, chickens, bees, rabbits, goats and an alpaca that Burfit reckons looks like David Tennant.
But the high point of our visit to Safeway Farm Country, was the pig race. Apparently “Richard’s Racers” are a PNE tradition and I’m really glad we waited around to see the race. Preceding the pig race, there was a duck race, but the ducks were very disinterested in racing 20m to a slide which landed them in a kiddy pool of ankle deep water. The pigs, on the other hand, went like the clappers! The audience was divided into 4 sections and assigned a pig to cheer for. The race would have only lasted for about 10-20 seconds at most, but what an exciting 10-20 seconds!
They raced around a U shaped track and the winning pig not only got to the general food treats first, but got the single mini-doughnut that was waiting at the finish line. The Pig Master (?) said pigs are very smart and they were all well aware that there was only one mini-doughnut to be had – and they all love mini-doughnuts.
The EKKA wouldn’t be the EKKA without Sideshow Ally and the PNE wouldn’t be the PNE without Playland. The most notable difference between the two being, the PNE has a casino tent. We found it extremely odd that there would be a casino at a family-type venue, but there it was. The legal age in Canada is 19 and they did seem to be checking IDs as people went in. There were also a few betting/casino games dotted around Playland separate from the main casino tent which we found even more odd. You could just walk up to a stall and place a bet. Weird.
Instead of parting with our pocket money at the casino, we parted with it at our chosen Playland station. We agreed it would not be a full PNE experience if we didn’t go on a ride, but none of the rides particularly took our fancy. And some of them looked a bit rickety.
So Burfit tried his hand at a kids fishing game. He got 3 tries at fishing and on his first try he pulled out a shark called “Mr Lucky” which meant for only $5 extra, he could ‘upgrade’ his winnings and choose any of the crappy stuffed animals on offer. He politely passed up this generous offer and kept fishing.
He got 3 for 3 and was very pleased with himself. I chose a red and yellow lobster whom we later dubbed “Mr Lucky” and Burfit chose a walrus called “Paul”.
I chose a game which may be difficult to explain without the aid of a photo. But here I go:
You get 6 silver balls to launch into a maze of evenly spaced nails. Then you have to predict where gravity will lead the ball and when it comes flying out of the bottom of the maze you have to be ready with your little catcher thing. And the prize you win depends on how many balls you save.
Clear as mud? Good.
I won a bizarre green lizard creature which is poking its tongue out. We called him Leroy.
(Burfit and I pose with Leroy, Mr Lucky and Paul)