Get fried at the CNE

Millions of people will be bulking up on yummy but unhealthy treats at The EX in Toronto (CNE Photo)

Rod Charles Deputy Editor

Toronto, Ontario — In Toronto, there’s one event that puts summer to rest.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) or The EX as it’s affectionately called, opens today and runs until September 3rd. The CNE is Canada’s largest fair. Founded in 1879, The Ex celebrates its 134th birthday this year and attracts approximately 1.3 million people.

But besides the rides, exhibits and annual events like the thrilling Air Show there’s one thing that defines the EX – fried, greasy, tasty food. The EX is famous for delicious offerings that will undoubtedly delight your taste buds while packing pounds on your frame. One of the most famous of these offerings is Deep Fried Butter – definitely not for the faint of heart.

Half the fun of the EX is finding out just how many things can be fried. Mars Bars and pickles are pillars of the CNE fried food community. You can also find deep fried cola, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and deep fried mac’n’cheese on the menu. Other heavyweights you will find at the EX include the Krispy Kreme Burger (introduced last year) and the oily but apparently tasty Colossal Onion.

But the CNE seems to have made a few changes to make your experience a little less…enlarging.

Not that the favourites are disappearing. Back by popular demand, The Ribfest will be at the show daily from 11am until 10pm (Labour Day Monday 10am – 7pm), with the exception of Monday  20 and 27 at Bandshell Park. There will be a wine garden open daily from 10 am – 10 pm at the Garden Show in the Direct Energy Centre, including live entertainment.

A Food Truck Frenzy will take place on the weekend of August 24 to 26 including Blue Donkey Streetery, Buster’s Sea Cove, Canuk Pizza Truck, Fidel Gastro, and Food Dudes to name a few.

But if you’re hoping to have some fun without putting on too much weight, there are some responsible choices you can make. Well, better choices.

Somewhat healthier choices at the CNE

Without question, one of the best stops you’ll make at the CNE is the Toronto Star Food Building. Almost every type of food you can imagine for every type of taste can be found in this building that attracts over 1 million people every year. The only knock on the Food Building is that it can be difficult to get a seat, especially if you’re with a group of people. Best to get there, take the time to find your seat and then get your food.

New icons on Food Building directory signage will help visitors make choices that are best suited for them, including healthier choices. To quote the CNE website: “Halal? Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Peanut Free, Vegetarian, Raw or other healthier alternatives? We offer it!”

Another new addition are sampling menus, where visitors can purchase “sampling” size portions from vendors to have a lighter taste of the more decadent fare. Not a bad idea if you’re hoping to indulge without completely throwing your diet plan out the window. Also not a bad idea if you don’t care about diets and just want to try more of these addictive meals.

One of the new additions to the food court this year is Vie, a vendor that serves all raw food. A raw foods diet consists of “unprocessed raw vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost their enzymes and thus a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body, whereas uncooked foods provide living enzymes and proper nutrition.”

Fresh Fuel Smoothies (The Pita Pit) will be serving smoothies that are from 100% juice, 3 servings of fruit in each, flavours including: Pomberry Antioxia; Strawberry/Kiwi Omega 3; Banana/Pinapple n’Fibre; Mango Probiotic and 5 Berry Immuniforce. Probably a healthier alternative to soda, although we can’t be sure.

The Food Network Celebrity Stage is back again this year featuring Laura Calder, David Rocco, Roger Mooking, Dufflet Rosenberg, Selwyn Richards, Victor Barry (Splendido), Anna Olson, Michael Smith, Chuck Hughes, Marc Thuet, James Smith, Patricia Muzzi, Jason Rosso, SugarStars and Kevin Brown. While this isn’t necessarily a chance to eat healthy at the CNE, many of these chefs will have healthy food ideas and tips.


For general CNE information: Contact the CNE Fun Line at 416-393-6300 or by E-mail at
Address: 100 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto

Hours of Operation (Except Labour Day)
Gates open: 10 am to 10 pm
Grounds open: 10 am to Midnight
Buildings open: 10 am to 10 pm
Casino open: Noon to 6 am
North American Midway Entertainment rides:
11 am to 11 pm* (Weekdays)
10 am to Midnight* (Weekends)

2012 Regular Admission Prices
General Admission (14 to 59 yrs.)     $16
Seniors (60 yrs. plus)     $12
Children (5 to 13 yrs.)     $12
Family Pass (2 adults & 2 kids or 1 adult & 3 kids)     $48
Children (4 yrs. & under)     FREE

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Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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