The Pacific National Exhibition may have started more than 100 years ago, but it is reaching all the way back to medieval times, ahead to cutting-edge animation, and even into the bizarre world of internet cat videos at this year's fair.
Fans of the hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones can check out costumes and props, have their picture taken on the massive Iron Throne, and, with the help of a virtual reality helmet, even scale The Wall at Game of Thrones: The Exhibition – a major touring exhibit that is making its final stop at the PNE. If they go on opening day, Game of Thrones diehards can also catch a Q&A with actress Sibel Kekilli, who plays Shae in the record-breaking HBO series.
"It's such an epic franchise and we're getting calls from everywhere," says PNE president and CEO Mike McDaniel, who also admits to being a hard-core fan. "It's a chance to touch and feel something they're really, really, really into."
Animation lovers can also try their hand at sketching, take a voice acting tutorial from Bill Farmer – the voice of Goofy and Pluto – and learn about animation processes from claymation to cutting-edge digital rendering at Get Animated!, an exhibit that involves Walt Disney, Sony, Pixar and other major animation houses.
And whether they love cats or irony or both, thousands will flock to Just For Cats, an internet cat video festival that began as a joke by an employee at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center and has since become a touring phenomenon.
All three shows are part of the fair's emphasis on "new and only this year" offerings, which organizers hope will encourage fairgoers to return regularly. Others include Jigu! Thunder Drums of China, Mystic India: Bollywood Dance Spectacular, YVR Fly Dome: A 360 Travel Experience, as well as the new Mosaic Music Series, which features favourite B.C. artists including Dal Richards, Spirit of the West, Hey Ocean!, Alex Cuba and Delhi 2 Dublin.
But Mr. McDaniel emphasizes that, in addition to all the new and more fleeting features, the treasured traditions that multiple generations have shared, from mini-donuts to Summer Nights Concerts, will also return, as will the SuperDogs – even if they are being displaced one night for the premiere of the internet cat video festival.
Mr. McDaniel says the dogs were understanding when he called to break the news. "They understand the entertainment business so they took it okay," he jokes. "They know they're still the big animal show in town."
The Pacific National Exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until Sept. 1 (pne.ca).