Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition is famous for its festival foods. In 2018 there are over 70 PNE vendors selling everything from donuts to BBQ ribs.
Festival-goers can also try a wide range of traditional ethnic cuisine, as well as crazy treats like deep-fried Mars bars and even bug-covered candied apples. The selection is extreme!
2018 PNE Food Vendors & Culinary Treats
For many Vancouverites the first things that come to mind when they think about the Pacific National Exhibition are the Night Concerts, amusement rides or prize home lottery. For others though, nothing conjures up memories of the PNE more than the food! The fair is world famous for its culinary treats!
The PNE is Vancouver’s annual summer fair which takes place from mid-August until the first Monday in September.
For details about the fair, click Pacific National Exhibition. For information about the food at the fair, continue reading.
2018 PNE Foods
In 2018 we (Vancouver’s Best Places) got to go on the PNE’s annual media food tour. That meant heading out early in the morning, before the place opened to the public, and sampling some of the latest and craziest food items at the fair.
On the menu for breakfast was a sample of smoking charcoal ice cream, tacos, a piña colada slurpee (with rum), a Korean-style hot dog, a watermelon ice cream sandwich, a deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrapped in bacon, Kit Kat fries, a deep-fried hamburger, a milkshake burger, a 1-pound Italian meatball and a bag of mini donuts. And to help wash it all down, the final delicacy was a cricket-coated caramel apple! How about you? What did you have for breakfast?
PNE 2018 Food Tour Video
Below is a video about the media food tour we got to go on in 2018.
Speaking in the video is Laura Balance, a spokesperson for the PNE.
Featured vendors in the video include Marchant Concessions with their smoking charcoal ice cream, Diggity Dogs with their Southern Comfort and Korean BBQ hot dogs, Brian Jones from B&B Diner with his milkshake burgers and Next Gen Concessions with their cricket caramel apples. Also featured in the video is the exotic menu from Pickle Pete’s as well as the mini donut factory from Those Little Donuts (which is celebrating its 50th year at the PNE).
More About the Food Vendors
The PNE is definitely famous for its festival-style culinary vendors and selection of foods. In 2018, in fact, there are over 70 different vendors to choose from. Many return year after year, but as many as 30% or more are different each season.
Between 80% and 90% of the food vendors in 2018 are from British Columbia, and almost every other one is also from Canada. The majority are small entrepreneurs from right here in the Lower Mainland.
Foods we have personally tried in 2018 include the following:
- The smoking coconut ash charcoal ice cream from Marchant Concession
- A S’lusicious piña colada (with rum)
- A Southern Comfort hot dog from Diggity Dogs
- A watermelon ice cream sandwich from Wat A Melon
- A deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrapped in bacon from Pickle Pete’s
- Deep-fried Kit Kat fries from Steve-O’s
- A deep fried hamburger from Tin Lizzy Concessions
- A sweet & salty milkshake burger from B&B Diner
- The 1-pound Italian meatball from Next Gen Concessions
- A bag of mini donuts from Those Little Donuts.
- A cricket-coated caramel apple from A Sweet Mind Candy Co.
All of the above were delicious! The S’lusicious drinks are great on a hot day, as are all of the ice cream-related items. The deep-fried Kit Kats were especially good too, as was the milkshake burger and giant meatball. And the cricket caramel apple, well, it was sweet and crunchy!
Many of the food vendors at the PNE have stories. Some come from families with long cooking backgrounds, and some have been serving food at the PNE for generations.
Below is a video of Brian Jones from the B&B Diner describing his milkshake burgers to members of the media during a food tour at the PNE in 2018.
The hamburgers are like regular high-quality burgers, except that they are topped with a scoop of ice cream. We tried the “sweet and salty” version which featured rock salts, caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream. Wow! As he says, it’s like having your hamburger and milkshake at the same time!
The other hamburger being served is the diner’s garlic-vanilla milkshake burger with garlic-flavoured ice cream. We didn’t try it, but heard it was awesome!
Brian explains that they use a special high-quality ice cream so it doesn’t melt right away, and that the ice cream is separated from the hot beef patty by the lettuce and other toppings.
Cricket Caramel Apples
There are always new exotic foods at the PNE and 2018 is no exception.
Next Gen Concessions offers something sweet, sustainable, sticky and with a crunch! It’s their cricket caramel apple that everyone is talking about!
“They taste like peanuts with legs” says the vendor from Next Gen Concessions, and they do (kind of)!
The following video features a talk about the PNE’s cricket caramel apples during a presentation to media in August of 2018:
Giant Fair-Sized Meatballs
Some fast food restaurants brag about their quarter-pound hamburgers. Thanks to the folks at Next Gen Concessions, the PNE can now brag about its full one-pound Italian meatballs!
The following video features a short talk by the grandson of an Italian woman who used to make and serve meatballs at her restaurant in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood of North Vancouver. He says he uses the same recipe, only he makes them bigger!
We tried one and it was delicious!
Looking for a specific vendor or type of food but can’t find it? Then check out this 2018 PNE Map of Food Vendors.