Opinion Column

Something always contradictory about the PNE

By Steve Burgess



Almost time once again to rejoice in tiny sugared pastries, rides with Biblical names like The Beast and The Revelation, and spending half the rent to win a free stuffed animal — the PNE returns on Saturday.

There's always something contradictory about the PNE. It's modern and retro. It's a summer tradition that signals the end of summer. It's a celebration both of eating and throwing up.

On the one hand, checking out the latest stuffed toy prizes is like seeing a snapshot of current popular culture. On the other hand, checking out the PNE concert lineup is like jumping into Marty McFly's DeLorean and going back three decades.

Huey Lewis and the News, Chicago, The B-52s, and ZZ Top are playing this year's fair and I am sure they will all sound great. But considering the 30-year lag between career peak and PNE appearances, I can't say I am looking forward to the Justin Bieber gig at PNE 2047.

Thirty years from now on the PNE Stage, Ed Sheeran's “Shape of You” is probably going to sound less like a sexy invitation and more like a warning from your doctor. “I'm concerned about the shape of you... I'd like to run some tests... oway oway oway oh...” I only hope I'm still around in 30 years to read about the concerts in the newspaper, or more likely the Vancouver 24 Hrs. Inter-Cranial News Implant.

The PNE can't be too hip. Corn dogs, petting zoos, and Super Dog shows are never going to be considered cutting edge. But it would be interesting if the annual summer fair had some new attractions that reflected recent news and events. Perhaps the Scara-Mooch, a ride based on former White House spokesperson Anthony Scaramucci. It would be shocking and insane, but over in about 10 seconds.

The Trump presidency has been a roller coaster, but an actual Trump Roller Coaster would never work as it would go off the rails every time. And nobody wants a ticket for the Trump versus North Korea Super Blast ride. Some scares are just too real.

Until the skies finally cleared it looked like this year's most popular PNE treat would be five minutes with an oxygen mask. But no doubt people will be chowing down on the usual delicious deep-fried fat deposits and sugar-coated sugar bombs. Just remember — you don't buy mini-donuts. You only rent them. That is, if you plan to ride The Beast.