THUNDER BAY – The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition rocked back for 2022 after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.
With a solid line-up of classic rock, and a night with Trooper that brought out likely record crowds, this year’s CLE has had something for everyone.
The rides were enjoyable. Concerns over safety due to the TSSA strike appear to have been taken care of by the managers flown in from Toronto.
At one of the rides, in what might seem to be a boring job, the ride operator told NetNewsLedger that, “This is the best job ever, I get to see kids laugh and smile all day”.
CLE from the Eyes of a Seven-Year-Old
For many parents, the CLE is all about the kids.
At one of the kid’s rides, the ride operator was offering high-fives to the kids as the “Dragon” roared by. That little bit of extra effort was seen by parents, and by kids and helped make the experience extra special.
The line-up of music was right in line with the people of Thunder Bay.
Wednesday night, Kim Mitchell brought his classic Canadian rock legend on strong to a very appreciative crowd.
Trooper simply rocked the fairgrounds.
Honeymoon Suite continued the fun.
Saturday night, if you closed your eyes, the band, Who Made Who, a Who Tribute was almost like hearing the real thing.
The Our Kids Count was well done with the popular bouncy castles. The Science North Display was taken in by a new generation of curious children offering them an opportunity to turn their curiosity into summer learning.
The Art Station in the Our Kids Count Zone was well done and appreciated by young people.
Special mention has to be made of the efforts by Silver City who opened their doors, washrooms and hearts to the fair goers.
What Can Make CLE Even Better?
There are a few areas where it is likely that improvement is needed.
By Saturday, in really what was good news in a way, the CLE website had exceeded its bandwidth and was down.
More bandwidth for the website is a nice thing to have to improve.
The CLE boosted security this year. That led to some longer line-ups, especially on the night Trooper was playing.
The Fair officials realized that right away, and added extra lines to get visitors through quickly. The benefit to the enhanced security was ensuring alcohol wasn’t entering the venue. A fair number of people tried to get alcohol into the park, including by putting it in baby bottles.
Parking this year was an issue for many people. That could be solved by having expanded transit service. If Transit and the CLE worked toward making it easier to get to the fair, it would also enhance the experience.
Thunder Bay Transit maintains its normal schedule during CLE Week. When the Midway ends at midnight, there should be expanded bus service from Wednesday to Sunday to allow people to reliably count on transit to get home from the CLE.
It could be a great experience to meld transit into new riders, and should be explored for other nights, like New Year’s Eve for extended service.
The night Trooper played, the line-up to get in was massive, and actually had some people turning away. There was enhanced security this year that slowed things down.
The CLE via their Facebook page maintained a steady stream of information.
What would be fantastic at the CLE would be a space to charge smartphones. Internet in the park could be enhanced, and perhaps adding Selfie Spots around the grounds where people could be encouraged to take selfies with the midway, the food area, and the concert venue in the background would be a great way to self advertise the event.
In keeping with the growing numbers of Indigenous people at the CLE, it would be fantastic to see an area set up for education and appreciate of our region’s important Indigenous population.
One issue for many was that outside water and outside food was not allowed into the park. That led to concerns from parents, with young children who needed distilled water for mixing with baby formula. Although the CLE provided solutions, the heat especially earlier in the week made having water available important.
Perhaps having a set up like at Marina Park with water-bottle filling stations can be done for next year. Again Silver City stepped up but with the growing crowds a better solution needs to be found.
Canadian Lakehead Exhibition 2022 has one night left. Streetheart is headlining the Pepsi Stage coming on at about nine. Key point to make is getting there early so you can get good seats.
There will be fireworks tonight at 11 PM.
As the 2022 CLE works into the history books, it must be said that it was good to see the fair come back so strong and provide so many smiles for so many kids.
Bigger and better and more success for 2023 would be great, but the 2022 edition has been one for the books.