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August 16, 2009

97th Prince George Exhibition and West Coast Amusement – less than amused experience

After a great deal of hesitation I went to the 97th PGX (Prince George Exhibition in Prince George British Columbia) show on Saturday August 15, 2009. I was shocked by many things I have encountered there. I love Prince George, but some of the things happened here simply blew me away.

This year, West Coast Amusement (WCA) was back with a “vengeance” as per the advertisements all over the town. It was extended to 5 days because it was supposed to be the biggest show Prince George has ever seen. I have been there last few years, my first impression this year was – it’s not the biggest that’s for sure. I will explain. I took my 7 year old son with me. So here it goes.

First, we drove our car to the parking lot of CN center. Job’s Daughter (a charity group apparently) attendants stopped us for a $3 parking fee. It was reasonable I thought for a good cause; but for many on a tight budget this may have been little too much. After that we went to the entry gate. Charges were as follows:

  • General Admission: $10
  • Children between 6 and 12: $7.50
  • Seniors: $8.50
  • Children under 5: Free

This is where I got my first shock as any other years. Entry fee is $10 for an adult to just get into the fair. $7.50 for a child to enter. I didn’t mind because I had only one child. Can you imagine how expensive it can be for a single mother or father with single income at this time? If someone had 4 kids it would be $30 just to enter at least just for the children alone. Including one adult and 4 children between 6 and 12 years old it would be $50 just to enter the fair. To my dismay, lot of people were paying that much, which was a good thing I thought because it takes a lot of money to bring WCA in town. It is good for local economy. However, organizers probably will call it a success based on the attendance but what they will not tell you is how many heartaches for this type of expenses. Job loss in Prince George reached almost 8%. How many parents can really afford to go? They will not mention this kind of reality.

Anyways, then we head to the ticket counter. An armband is $31. For us it was $62. If you purchased it from Mr. G before August 7, it would have been $25 each. If we take the same example of one adult and 4 children it would be at least $155 for the arm bands. Anyways, after that we went to the rides. Again to my disbelief there was less rides than last year I thought. My child loves the long slides but this year they didn’t bring it. Next on the choice menu for us was the NASA space ship ride. It was a new ride and very interesting one. My son and I, both liked it. We went on it 3 times. Here is another issue that came out. Smoking is banned from everywhere in British Columbia, except Prince George Exhibition ground for the fair. I was surprised to see that the operator of the NASA ride, was smoking cigarettes right in front of the children and even after everyone entered the ride he was smoking at the entry door. All the smokes were coming in and of course the smell was overwhelming. No one was there to overlook this type of unhealthy behavior. It was supposed to be a family and kids friendly atmosphere but I found it to be very unhealthy. Even my 7 year old had to say, eww he is smoking! We were thinking of going on the ride for the 4th time because of my 7 year old but I was getting sick from the smell of smoke.

Anyways, next on the ride menu it was the roller coaster. We both liked it as well. Again, the operator was smoking in front of everyone I thought that was bad. It didn’t bother us as much because the ride was in an open area. After this ride it was time to go get some food. Everything was of course over priced. For 2 burgers, 2 fries and 2 drinks it cost us $17.25. After eating we went on bumper car ride.

My kid, of course, loves this ride as always. But to my disbelief, during the ride I have noticed that the operator did not check each car and in one of the cars there were a grandfather with two of his grand kids. He did not put on the safety bar. This should have been checked even before the ride started, but the operator was busy flirting with teenage girls and he started the ride. Of course in less than 5 seconds the little boy on that car bumped his head at the front of the car. I sure thought he broke his nose. Grandfather didn’t know what to do but he continued the ride. He was oblivious that he could ask the operator to stop the ride. The little boy was crying because he hit the front of the car few more time and I brought my car around and told the operator, but he said, it’s alright! He is having fun. Can you believe that? The entire ride when I should have been enjoying it with my 7 year old I was worried about the safety of the other kid. This is absolutely unacceptable. Despite the fact, we went on the ride couple more times. There was no other rides we thought we could go on because most of them are either too small for us or all are circling in an orbit which makes both of us sick. As a result we thought $31 for an armband was way too expensive. We thought because the ride is bigger than any other years it would be worth while to get the armbands. But it wasn’t. We only ended up going on 4 rides.

Then came playing some games. I thought this was way over priced again. To pop some balloons with dirt, it was $5 for 3 dirt and $10 for 7 dirt. Then to shot the water gun it was $5 each. To shoot with basketball for 3 shots it was $5. Basically all the games on Prince George Exhibition ground was $5 to the least. None the less we had some fun. Both of us thought it was more fun then the rides.

Next we to the very end of the show where the animals and BCLC’s Winter Olympic dome was. We both watched the movie on the front end projection booth. It was fun. However, after waiting for about 15 minutes in the line, the local radio station reporter in Prince George came in and she even didn’t had to wait. Just went on the ride cutting in front of everyone and the entire line. She is supposed to cover the event from a regular visitor’s point of view who had to wait in line. I don’t know how she could cover an event if she doesn’t experience it properly just like anyone else. Anyways, I didn’t mind again because it was our turn next. Because it was about 2010 Olympic, I liked it. Then we went to the animal’s area. It was good but not sure how it was organized. When we went to the rabbits area there was no one to direct us what to do. My kid wanted to pat a rabbit for about 10 minutes. You know how impatient 7 years old can get. I asked someone if he could pet, she said wait in the line. I looked behind me and there was no line. After waiting for about 10 minutes I told my kid that you are not allowed to pet the rabbits then we left.

After we left the animal area it was about 3 hours at the Prince George Exhibition Ground enjoying (!) the West Coast Amusements attractions (!). I asked my 7 year old, what you want to do now. What he said, pretty much sums up 97th Prince George Exhibition. He said, “It is boring and I thought it was supposed to be the best one! let’s go home.” After spending about $150 in 3 hours we came home with an weird experience and wishing it will be different next year.

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