Saskatoon Ex: An Odyssey / by Deborah Clague

The thing I miss most about summer in Winnipeg is attending the Red River Ex with friends. If there's one event that signals the start of summer (besides the infestation of mosquitos), it's this traveling carnival of rickety rides and arterie-clogging half-foods. In short, it's a week of awesomeness. Therefore when I heard the Saskatoon version was rolling into town, I knew I had to attend. And so it was written. 

The Saskatoon Ex is located at Prairieland Park, an area with ample space for amusement rides, food concessions and $10 ring toss throws. There is also lots of room for parking...when the Ex isn't on. The lot was near capacity when I arrived, the only available stalls would have been tight with a Mini Cooper. Can't say the bus would have been a better option though: transit information was nonexistent on the official website and at $2.75 each way would have been costlier per head than carpooling. Seeing as my vehicle has become a punching bag of sorts since I moved out here, I eventually threw caution to the wind and squeezed into a spot Austin Powers-style.

The Saskatoon Ex remains a relatively wholesome family event where octogenarians can safely bump shoulders with brooding teenagers feebly trying to hide their excitement. Bingo is played. Corn dogs consumed. It felt somewhat quaint, definitely devoid of the sleeze that permeates the air of the Winnipeg version. The first attraction I headed for - as always - was the Superdogs show (or, should I say, "The President's Choice Superdogs"...they are definitely getting their sponsorship dollar's worth from the announcer). The dogs always seem so keen to showcase their skill and endurance, however, this video frame may belie their perceived submission:

Someday, Rover, you will be master and she will be begging for Scoobie Snacks. Someday.

Also, props to President's Choice for funding the most amazing inflatable mascot I have ever seen. Look at that authoritative pose:

The dogs put on a great performance, made greater by the fact that they finally retired playing "Who Let The Dogs Out?" as an interlude. Another canine-themed show at the Saskatoon Ex was Dock Dogs. Since the batteries for my camera went dead about 10 minutes after I arrived, I unfortunately have no pictures. Trust though, that the border collies involved were more deserving of being on the mainstage than Stereos (*shudder*). If that band is qualified to receive tax-payer funded financial assistance to pursue their musical ambitions, then I would like to announce that I will soon retire from advertising to become a glam-rock yodeler.    

A friend of mine from high school left one summer to become a carnie and was never seen again. True story. I thought of this while strolling through the midway. The sun was setting. The garbage cans had shifty eyes:

The only thing scarier that that was the concession selling deep-fried cheesecake. DEEP. FRIED. CHEESECAKE. Holy shit! Surely, it's a less painful suicide than jumping off a balcony but imagine how your thighs would look? Leaving behind a good-looking corpse is important; you never know, that handsome mortician just might be single. Other tightrope walks over the valley of death included the shark encounter and riding the zipper before popping a Maalox. The Saskatoon Ex: for the adventurous at heart and of stomach. 

Til we meet again in 2011...