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PNE, The Fair 2023

It that time of year again, the eventual end of summer and the start of the PNE Fair. 15 days of games, food, and family friendly entertainment to help ease you into fall.

The annual PNE Fair is British Columbia’s longest running and largest ticketed event, and it returns Saturday, August 19 and runs until September 4, 2023.

There is much to see and do at the fair and I will not be able to report on it all. So the following is a recap of the street performances we took in, the food we ate, and the highlights I made note of.

There are always vendors to shop from at the Market Place, but this year they rebranded it to the “Taste Showcase” with an emphasis on food and food related products. A cooking stage, samples; plus gourmet goods like candied rope, specialty chocolates, and cake in a jar.

The bubble tea sign drew us in. Not traditional, but a good selection of fruits juices and smoothies with the ability to add tapioca pearls as you like.

This is the first time I have seen PNE with a wine bar that also offers cheese and fruit cups to pair with wine by the glass. There is even a spacious seating area to enjoy them in.

Upon reflection there were a lot more spirit offerings in general, with the need to produce ID in exchange for beers, coolers, branded spirit cocktails and/or even spiked slushes. All for open drinking as you roamed the park.

I enjoyed the ability to take in quick and small bits of live entertainment by musicians and buskers. Marching bands playing top 40 covers, traditional dance performed in traditional garments, and even a slap stick high diving act.

But truthfully we were there for the food. Every year I look forward to the weird and wacky, to see what creative take vendors make on their cuisine. Sadly there was no pickle flavoured cotton candy, butter beer soft serve, or candied apples with ants of years past. It all felt very expected instead with cotton candy dipped cones equipped with googly eyes, pink lemonade soft serve, and sandwiches made with bacon and jam.

I did notice there were a lot more food trucks and a greater diversity of offerings in general. And even $10 deals advertised at regular booths, for those looking to save.

The following is what we had, avoiding dairy, as my companion has a lactose allergy.

A bacon wrapped grilled foot long hot dog from Super Foot Long Hot Dogs. Get them with fresh grilled onions or not and top with as much or as little self serve ketchup, mustard, and relish as you like.

Next, we ordered two tacos from fusion Japanese taco truck Taco Nori. I have had them before and am a fan, so wanted my guest to try them today, as they were a new addition to The Fair this year. In salmon and tuna, this is basically sushi remixed. Madein to a deep fried nori shell filled with sushi rice, cucumber, soy sauce, spicy wasabi mayo, and your chosen seafood that is topped with massago, sesame seeds, and green onions. Crunchy, fresh, and simply delicious. This was my guest’s favourite thing that we had.

Feeling thirsty we bee-lined it to a staple at the PNE. Fresh squeezed lemonade that you can further flavour to your liking by adding however many pumps of blue raspberry, cherry, or lime syrup to it. A great thirst quencher and not too sweet.

And for dessert we opted for the unconventional corn on the cob done extra at the Rolling Revolution food truck. Take the principle of Mexican style roasted corn with butter and cheese and offer a variety of different toppings for a delicious and portable snack to munch on as your walk. We ordered their Japanese Aburi style corn, but asked for the Japanese mayo and furikake topping to go without cheese. Torched to order for a nice char, it was deliciously savoury over naturally sweet corn in season.

And with that we were well fed and full, and having had our fill of exploration, decided to pack it in for the evening.

For those interested in visiting yourself, the 2023 Fair will run from August 19th until September 4th from 11am until 11pm. The Fair will be closed on Monday, August 21st and August 28th.

Hot tip: Save $5 on adult gate passes and $2 on Youth, Child and Seniorgate passes if you buy in advance. And the same with ride passes

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