Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you, there’s nothing I would rather do at the end of August than take in the Canadian National Exhibition for a couple of hours. For just over two weeks each year I’ll find any excuse to go to The Ex, and most years I go at least five or six times, if not more.
Call it an obsession, or call it the last great hurrah before fall, but I love almost everything about it. If I’m not down there taking pictures, I go to ride the Ferris Wheel, see the animals, buy some goodies, play some games, or just to wander around a bit.
I have a lot of favorite things at The Ex, and although most of them are pretty general, including a bunch of things run by the CNE itself, I think I owe at least a couple of places a nod.
Topping my list is Carmichael & Company. Located in the At Home Pavilion in the Direct Energy Centre, Hall A. This company sells amazing summer sausage, pepperettes, and jerky that is utterly delicious. Although all their stuff is very good, my favorite is their venison summer sausage, but they also sell a couple of other varieties, like turkey summer sausage. Look for their booth just a little east and south of the middle of the building, and you can otherwise reach them regularly by phone at 1-800-738-5516.
Another favorite stop in the Direct Energy Centre, near the north entrance to Hall A, is a company called Tropical Expressions (I think) that sell bonsai plants in all shapes and sizes. You can find them online at www.bonsaistore.ca, and they have two tables, right as you walk in Hall A, covered in a number of beautiful trees and other plants for sale. I bought a small bonsai cherry tree for $10, while the average price of a mid-sized bonsai tree is around $25. They also sell some stunning large bonsai trees for upwards of $60.
Next on my list is Krazy Kitty (they have a website at www.krazykitty.com), located in the Queen Elizabeth Building (otherwise known as the Arts, Crafts & Hobbies building). If you have a cat, this company sells some great stuff, but the highlight is their Catnip Blanket – which, yes indeed, has catnip inside. Aisha’s cat Munchkin goes nuts for it, and sleeps on it all the time. Look for the booth in the northeast corner of the building, near the exit.
And lastly, a new favorite, which is also in the Arts & Crafts building, is a shop called The Philosopher’s Stone. Hailing from Barss Corner, Nova Scotia, this unique company sells specially crafted stones that have been shaped into small vases and holders. Ranging in price from as little as $10, the beautifully crafted stones can hold a pencil, a single flower, or in the larger cases, act as full-sized vases or hold your cooking utensils. Look for them in one of the middle aisles of the building, or you can reach them at 902-644-3273, and via email at [email protected]
I’ll have some more from The Ex in the days to come (particularly regarding the food), and if you haven’t gone already, check it out. It’s a lot of fun in the evenings, and weekdays (Monday to Thursday) it only costs $5 to get in after 5:00 PM.