5 minutes with: Mike McDaniel

The Pacific National Exhibition is kicking off its annual 17-day fairSaturday and like every year, there will be no shortage of visualspectacle.

The Pacific National Exhibition is kicking off its annual 17-day fair Saturday and like every year, there will be no shortage of visual spectacle.

PNE president Mike McDaniel talked to Metro about how the iconic fair has maintained its popularity for 100 years.

What’s new with the PNE this year?
We wanted to make things extra special, starting with our parade on Friday evening, which will start off at English Bay. It’ll have Macy’s Day-style floats and highlight all the iconic events we’ve hosted in Vancouver. We’ve also got Bryan Adams and the Beach Boys opening things on Saturday, and then 17 concerts free with admission.

Last year our venue was over-flowing, so we’ve expanded our concert area from 7,000 to 11,000 seats. Our entertainment budget this year is just over $6 million.

How has the PNE affected the city over the past 100 years?
We’ve helped shape the development of Vancouver for sure. Back before we had Twitter and cellphones, events like these were what truly brought people together to talk, to be entertained and educated. Back then, that was the only way. Through the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, fairs like the PNE were the engagement of entertainment.

How has the PNE maintained its popularity over time?
It’s a challenge, but a lot of it is the combination of what we choose to do, when we choose to do it and how we do it. We research things every year and see what’s out there and keep informed on what’s up and coming for the next year. Our event is really an orchestra of things. We try to mix tradition with modern to keep our balance. The combination of every demographic, every walk of life, every age group — that’s the magic of how we stay relevant. The cost of admission in 1910 was 50 cents.

How does that compare to today?
Fifty cents wouldn’t cover taxes on a ticket today. The cost today is $15, and I love that someone can pay that on a ticket and get eight or nine hours of fun out of it.

 
 
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