PNE fair going ahead despite pandemic with new drive-thru experience

You can still get your fix of foot-long hot dogs and fancy-footed performing dogs at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) this summer.

The annual Vancouver event runs Aug. 22-30 at Hastings Park and has been adapted by organizers into a drive-thru experience, so guests can take in many of the traditional sights, sounds and snacks of the fair from the comfort, and safety, of their cars.

Now in its 110th year, the plan during the pandemic is to include many of the attractions thousands of fair-goers flock to see every year, while having measures in place to prevent any spread of COVID-19.

Christie Kerr, director of fair operations, says attendees will come in their vehicles and see “tidbits” of what the fair usually has on offer. 

A Taste of the PNE: Drive-Thru Fair Experience will put fair-goers at the heart of a mini parade with performers and exhibitors, while they experience the fair from inside their vehicles due to COVID-19 concerns. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

These tibits include a 10-minute tailgate show by the PNE SuperDogs, an agriculture exhibition with 25 farm animals, a parade where guests actually participate by driving in the midst of performers and then a cruise through food row where over 15 food vendors have treats available for purchase.

“It’s been heartbreaking,” said Kerr Friday on The Early Edition about the lack of revenue opportunities for fair vendors, many of whom, she said, told her this will be the only chance they have to make money this season.

The fair was initially cancelled in April due to COVID-19 restrictions and Kerr said the idea to hold a scaled-down version came after organizers held a popular drive-thru mini doughnut sales event in May.

Customers buy mini-donuts at the drive-thru mini donut event at the PNE in Vancouver, B.C. on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

And the winner is…

There is even a PNE Prize Home this year and tickets to win can be purchased at the fair or online.

Touring the home, located on the fair grounds, is a popular tradition for PNE-goers and this year, anyone wishing to do so can reserve a time slot to see the interior of the house during the first week of September.

This year’s home is a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom chalet style house that will be relocated near Whistler, B.C., and the winner will be drawn Sept. 14.

To join the car caravan at the PNE fair this year, the price is $25 per vehicle, and guests will need to reserve a time slot online.

And if you are into rides, Playland at the PNE is open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through September. Face masks are required and reservations must also be made online.

Playland at the PNE is open on select days with limited capacity and mandatory reservations and face masks. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

To hear the complete interview with Christie Kerr on The Early Edition, tap here.

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