Sunday, August 17, 2008

PNE from the centre of the universe

Sometimes, when I attend a large event, I find a way to stay mostly in one spot, and get the experience from one vantage point. I find that I am less overwhelmed this way, which allows me to be more observant. I have also noticed that everything I need to do or see makes its way to the place where I am, and I have a full experience, even if I don't seek them all out myself.

Andy and I went to the PNE on Saturday. It was opening day, and also the day that Fiona and her friend Dani were set to perform in the talent show. The show took place at the Rogers Amphitheatre, the main outdoor stage at the fair. Fi and Dani did a wonderful job, singing a song from the musical, Wicked. They didn't win, but we were very pleased with their performance, and they were happy to be in the show.

After the show, it was supper time, so while the girls took off with some friends for a few hours, Andy and I looked around and found fair food for supper (pizza, mini donuts and root beer for him, Vietnamese salad roll, wiggle chips and ice tea for me). Fair food is unfairly expensive, but it's part of the experience. I brought a water bottle from home, and found places to refill it throughout the day, otherwise we would be paying $3 minimum every time we needed a cool drink on a very hot day.

We ate our supper at the Rogers Amphitheatre. By 6pm, the lawn was filling already with people grabbing spots for the Trooper Concert. The crowd was all ages and styles. Waiting 90 minutes wasn't hard because the people-watching was great. Luckily, we brought a blanket, so we could keep a bit of a spot for ourselves. Everyone was wiggling up tight on the lawn and the bleachers behind.

Trooper has been around forever. This local band played at a couple of dances at my junior high school in the early 70s, then went on to become famous in Canada and make a bunch of albums. They still have a lot of loyal fans. I wouldn't say that Andy and I are big fans, but we were curious, and thought a free concert would be a lot of fun, which it was. The show was nostalgic, jarring (I forgot about that song "Three Dressed up as a Nine,") and entertaining. The band played well, although the sound was a bit rough on and off through their 90 minute set, and there were a couple of overly-long solos that would have been refreshing if they were not so overyly-long. The overall impression I got is that Trooper is a bunch of old musicians, still able, very earnest about their work, and appreciative of their fans. After the show, they sat in a tent for over an hour, signing CDs and meeting fans.

After Trooper we took a short walkabout then returned to guess where? The Rogers Amphitheatre, where we spread out the blanket one more time and waited for the girls to rejoin us for the evening finale show, Rolling Thunder. This was one of the weirdest things I have ever seen: loud country music, dancing, lip-synching, huge trailer trucks with dancers inside them and on top of them, fireworks and big flaming torches that felt like they burned our eybrows everytime they flared, mechanical bulls and real lumberjacks sawing logs with chain saws. I am not exaggerating. Oh, there was a giant inflatable someone - lumberjack? Glen Campbell? I'm still trying to figure that one out.

For a fairly strange and wonderful day at the PNE, it was a perfect ending. We made it home by midnight after dropping off Fi's friends at their homes.

question: will you go to the fair this year?

mompoet - PNE tip for the year: The women's washroom downstairs at the Agrodome has no lineups (go in the front doors and turn left to go down to the lower level.)

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