CNE 2017: Ferris Wheels and Chicken Feet

deep fried chicken feet
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CNE: A Toronto Tradition

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), more colloquially known as “the Ex”, has been an annual tradition in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, for nearly 140 years. The CNE takes place every summer at Toronto’s Exhibition Grounds for 18 days leading up to Labour Day. This national fair features carnival attractions, casino, concerts, shopping, airplane shows – and of course, lots and lots of FOOD!

For me, the CNE symbolizes the last hurrah of summer, a hot and hazy day spent wading through exuberant crowds in search of both old favourites and new attractions each year. Entrance tickets are reasonably priced and often available at a discount: $19/adult, $16/child (5-13), $16/senior, free/child (under 5).

This was the first year we brought our girls, now 4 and 7 years old, to the Ex (although now I wonder why we waited to long!). They absolutely LOVED it. We were able to arrive late morning on a weekday which is definitely the way to go for families with young kids. Their favourite attractions were:

  • Ferris Wheel (with beautiful views of the Ex)
  • Kids’ World (magic show, live reptile zoo)
  • Ice Skating & Aerial show (featuring three-time world champion figure skater, Elvis Stojko)
  • Tiny Tom’s doughnuts (again, not surprising!)
  • Trampo Wall (unique acrobatic act on a trampoline and vertical walls)

In my opinion, one of the best things about the Ex is that there is soooo much great entertainment included with admission. You get your money’s worth just wandering the grounds and buildings, and taking it all in.

CNE View from Ferris Wheel toronto carnival fair

CNE View from Ferris Wheel

water ski show cne toronto

Water Ski show

Giant Coors Cowboy Boot CNE Toronto

Giant Coors Boot

CNE: Food Destination

The Ex is known for beloved carnival foods like corn dogs (my favourite), bloomin’ onions, cotton candy and giant slushies. Every year, foodies also look forward to more adventurous creations like deep-fried poutine balls, Jamaican patty chicken burgers and coffee doughnut milkshakes. This year, new foods included “eat them if you dare” deep fried chicken feet, Pig Mac by Bacon Nation, CrabMac by Fidel Gastros, S’More Chimney Cone by Chimney Stax Baking Co, and The Colossal Coliseum by San Francesco’s Sandwiches… to name just a few.

Taking advantage of Toronto’s incredible food truck scene, Food Truck Frenzy has been expanding every year, and now features an impressive 24 food trucks:

  • Bacon Nation
  • Bake Three Fifty
  • Beavertails
  • Burgatory
  • Chimney Stax
  • Curbalicious
  • Delight Bite
  • Eva’s Orginal Chimneys
  • feasTO
  • Fidel Gastro
  • Food Dudes
  • Gourmet Guyz
  • Hank Daddy BBQ
  • I Love Churros
  • Mustache Burger
  • Pappas Greek on wheels
  • Philthy Phils
  • SWAT (Sandwiches With A Twist)
  • Tdots Naansence
  • Texas Tornado
  • The Colossal Onion
  • The Urban Smoke
  • Toben Food By Design

I tried to visit as many food trucks as possible. Food truck prices were $8-12 per dish which seems on the high side. Offering smaller portions priced at $5-7 to allow for more sampling. However, overall Food Truck Frenzy offered good variety of tasty eats. I’d say the biggest missing cuisine was Japanese – my bet is that we’ll see it on the lineup next year!

  • cne entrance food truck frenzy toronto 2017
    Entrance to French's Food Truck Frenzy!

Craft Beer Fest

Locally brewed beers are also a big draw at Food Truck Frenzy, with Craft Beer Fest now featuring 11 master brewers. Eight beer samples for $20 was a fantastic deal. 🙂

  • Pommies Cider Co.
  • Shiny Apple Cider
  • Muskoka Brewery
  • Side Launch Brewing
  • Sawdust City Brewing Co.
  • Hockley Brewing Company
  • Whitewater Brewing Co.
  • Stack Brewing
  • Lake of the Woods Brewing Company
  • Big Rock Brewery
  • Wellington Brewery
  • Skeleton Park Brewery
  • Sawdust City Brewing Co. beer toronto cne ontario
    Sawdust City Brewing Co.

Until Next Year!

The CNE was as great as ever this year!  I discovered a ton of new things to do (for free)! And the food scene – especially Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest – was a foodie’s delight. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Ex has to offer; maybe next year we’ll check out the evening concerts too. Only another 347 days until CNE 2018! 🙂


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I'm a Canadian mother of two with a passion for food and cooking. I'm increasingly discovering that delicious food can also be healthy! So, I am sharing my favourite recipes with like-minded home cooks. Along the way, I'll also be writing about food-related topics such as gadgets, books and television. Let the culinary adventures begin!

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