EDvent: Capital Ex '09

The nostalgia has worn off, but Edmonton's largest festival of the year still offers up some old-fashioned fun

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

THE Midway isn't the same to me these days as it was when I was a kid. Many of the rides are still present, the food and drinks are still over-priced, and the vendors are just as pushy as ever. But the difference now is that I'm the adult and my patience has gone along with the days when we called the festival Klondike Days.

Today (Sunday, July 26) marks the final day of the 130th annual Capital Ex (named such since 2005), and yesterday was the first time I ventured onto the grounds of Northlands in years ($10/ Gen. Admission). The crowds were plentiful, the aura was exciting, and the heat was unavoidable--unless, of course, you slipped into the Agricom, which boasts various showcases, including an Aboriginal exhibit (Kiyanaw), an Egyptian exposè (King Tut & Egyptian Treasures), and a better-than-it-looks interactive butterfly "show" (Spirit of the Butterfly).

I checked out the latter ($3), which seemed docile at first, as it basically consisted of standing in a netted room with what must've been hundreds of exotic butterflies that, to my surprise, were more than likely gonna land on you at one point or another. Some of the other folks had a half-dozen winged caterpillars on them at any given time, and others screeched as the insects flew by them. This was definitely worth my three loonies!

We passed by the stage that featured a Native-Canadian rock band playing to a small crowd, and headed outdoors into the 30+ heat to check out the grounds. Countless drink and snack vendors welcomed us immediately, but we bypassed them--and the hypnotist that has become a staple of the fest--and headed towards the carnival games and park rides supplied by Midway Entertainment.

The first ride we got up the nerve to test out was the Swing Tower, which is a lot like West Edmonton Mall's "Swing of the Century," except that we're outdoors and much higher from the safe concrete below. After about 25 minutes of waiting in line we finally hit the swings, which ranked about a 4/10 on the scare-o-meter, if such a thing exsisted. We walked around for awhile, taking in the beautiful people and noisy bells & buzzers, before stopping breifly for a $4 root beer.

Although Capital Ex offers up more than 50 rides--according to their website--we caught only one other, which you can chalk up to the unreasonable line-ups. My 11-year-old nephew and I decided to bare the 45-minute wait and stood in line for the last ride of our stay, the infamous Zipper, which was more than either of us bargained for. I wasn't able to show how chicken-shit I was once we were snug within the ride's cage because I was too busy trying to calm down my frightened nephew, who vowed never to go on the Zipper again!

With just minutes left before Canadian rockers Thornley took to the ED Fest stage, me and my "clique" were too exhausted to stay any longer, so headed for the exit with heavier stomachs and lighter wallets. It was during the long walk back to my oven of a car that I realized the memories of K-days are just that...memories.

This annual, 10-day festival in Edmonton's Northeast (next to Rexall Place) is a new and different experience now, and not that it's an undesirable affair, but the magic of the flashing lights, blaring buzzers, sugary treats and fear-mongering amusement rides has settled over the years. Now, the most satisfying part of the trip is driving in my air-conditioned car to the nearest liquor store to finish up my night!

Check out the Capital Ex '09 video (courtesy of YouTube) below

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