Steelpan closes The Ex with a bang

Report and pictures by Stephen Weir

Wendy leading the band

Monday. Just an hour before the CNE gates shut for the last time this year, Wendy Jones stood on the fair’s International Stage and asked an audience how they are all feeling.  A crowd of 1,000 pan enthusiasts shouted back long and loud. “Hot. Hot. Hot!”

Wendy Jones and the Pan Fantasy Steelband responded in kind.  A rousing stripped down rendition of the Merryman’s Feeling Hot Hot Hot closed out their one-hour performance in Enwave building at the Ex.  By the time they had packed up their kit (and posed for this picture beside the stage) the CNE had already gone into its shut-down mode for what has been a very successful festival, coming off a 1-year Covid shutdown.

The CNE was held from August 19th to September 5th. According to Darrell Brown, the boss of the festival the “attendance was over 1 million by the middle of last week, a 10 per cent increase when compared to 2019.

He says even though the last four days have not enjoyed the best weather, they managed to attract about 110,000 people on Sunday, adding that number could have gotten to 150,000 if it were a good forecast.

“All told, we expect to be between 1.4 [and] 1.5 million people overall for the entire fair,” Brown said to the media.

Woman on the bass
Pan Fantasy

The CNE expects to be back next summer – if that is the case they will have to hurry up and book Toronto’s Pan Fantasy Steelband for 2023 because they are Hot. Hot. Hot.