PNE 2013 – Reel (Deep Fried) Mac and Cheese
We’ve been going to the PNE for years… it’s one of the constants in Vancouver in late August. Over the years, it seemed like things had progressively gotten worse… almost to a point where we were considering not going this year.
I think it all began when they started to remove sections of the PNE and turn it into a park. I get how communities want more greenspace but I used to live in the area and I never had any problems with the PNE being there. There’s plenty of greenspace around if you know where to look for it. I miss seeing the Challenger Relief Map and all of the other sights that once occupied the area.
Last year, we didn’t even see the SuperDogs show because they moved it to a late hour.
Well, this year, the PNE has changed a few things around. For one thing, they’ve closed the PNE for the first 2 Mondays (Aug 19th and Aug 26th) because attendance was usually low on these days and they can save some money. Next, the prices have dropped by 20% (including the parking). I’m not a fan about the Monday closing because we used to go on Mondays but I’m happy about the price drop… it was starting to get a little ridiculous with the prices. It makes sense that if you want people to visit the Fair, you should lower the prices so it’s more competitive with all of the other activiites that people can enjoy in Vancouver.
I’m glad that they moved the SuperDogs to an earlier showing (first showing starts at 11:30am). There’s less seats to view the show this year because half of the Coliseum is used as the backdrop. I still miss Herb Williams who used to announce the show… Chase just doesn’t seem to be on his game and doesn’t always have his timing down right.
We visited on the “free day” this year (Aug 20th from 11am to 1pm). We’ve been to the PNE before on free days but I’ve never seen it this busy. Maybe all of the changes that they’ve made this year have helped because it was jammed packed. We actually had to line up a block to get into the gates.
This year, the Peking Acrobats are also in the Coliseum (sandwiched between showings of the SuperDogs).
It’s not a visit to the PNE without a stop by Those Little Donuts. Prices are $4 for a bag of 12 of $10 for 3 bags. Inflation is a real kicker. I remember not too long ago that you’d get 18 in a bag and the prices were cheaper. Plus, if you knew someone that worked there, they would just keep filling the bag until it was overflowing.
One of the things that I really like is the food that you can get at the PNE. They have a few well known food trucks like Roaming Dragon and Reel Mac and Cheese as well as stalwart favourites like Hunky Bill’s and Jimmy’s Lunch. Make sure you pick up the Pinwheel Deals coupon book for $2 at Guest Services as there’s lots of savings in there (we got ours free with a coupon in the paper).
I’ve been meaning to try out the Reel Mac and Cheese food truck for awhile but I don’t make it downtown very often so I jumped at a chance to try their Run Fatboy Run ($8) – 3 deep fried mac and cheese balls. The crunchy exterior gave way to cheesy goodness inside. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it was stuffed with something. Maybe some ground beef or bacon on the inside (hint hint).
I honestly haven’t seen it this busy at the PNE since the late 80’s – think Expo ’86. Wall-to-wall people everywhere.
We didn’t visit the Genghis Khan exhibit ($3) but it looked like a fair number of people were lining up for it. I kind of feel like it should have been included in the price of admission but I suppose they need to make their money somewhere.
We actually spent a good amount of time looking for the Think Sweet Deep Fried Pies stand as we heard that it was really good. Unfortunately, the coupon book said it was located in a section of the Fair near the Marketplace when it was really located closer to the west side of Playland (next to the 2nd Those Little Donuts stand).
We had a coupon for 2 deep fried pies for the price of one but it was still overpriced at $7 each. We ordered the apple and the blueberry. The blueberry was overcooked but even the apple wasn’t that great. We were expecting something more like the deep fried apple pies that you used to get at McDonalds before they started baking them (or the ones at Church’s Chicken). The dough was too thick and not crispy at all. While the apple had a pretty good filling, it was a bit on the skimpy side for apple pieces. I might have been more disappointed by this because we spent so much time looking for the stand.
If you’re looking to get your deep-fried game on, you’re better off to stick to the funnel cakes or deep fried oreos at the Pennsylvania Dutch stand.
Here’s a couple of things that I think would make the PNE better in future years:
- Open before 11am – I hate how half of my day is gone before I even get to the Fair.
- Keep the prices low – If you get people into the Fair, they’ll spend the money.
- Food Trucks – Some more well known food trucks would probably help (and we seem to have so many in Vancouver these days)
What do you think they should do at the PNE to make things better?
Update: Attendance in 2013 was 712,049 (lower than the 763,000 achieved last year). It could be the drop was due to the power outages or the Monday closings… who knows?
Posted on August 22, 2013, in Fairs, Food Truck, Mac & Cheese, Restaurant Review and tagged Deep Fried Mac and Cheese, Fair, Food, Food Truck, Mac n' Cheese, PNE, Vancouver. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.