Northlands is trying to get the public engaged in renaming its annual summer fair by holding a naming contest to replace the unloved title Capital Ex, which itself replaced the loved-only-by-old-people Klondike Days.
The names that Northlands has offered up are a fairly uninspired lot, which is perfect considering that the ex-Capital Ex is a fairly uninspired event. It’s difficult to give a name to an event that has no central theme, no reason for being other than an excuse to bring in a great big noisy fair, which is not coincidentally a great big moneymaker for Northlands.
Ever since Northlands took Klondike Days off of life support, they have struggled to find a theme — a raison d’être, if I may get very pretentious — for the summer fair. Klondike Days was for many years quite a success. When Edmonton was a less-sophisticated city, K-Days worked. There were pancake breakfasts and marching bands downtown. Businesses added false fronts in a frontier theme, men wore vests and old-school ties, and quite a few women wore those fabric-intensive 19th century dresses, which I suspect did not go over well on an 85 degree summer day. (I used Fahrenheit temperatures because that’s how they measured temperature in those days; just trying to keep it real, folks). Today, of course, you couldn’t get a 21st century Edmonton woman into one of those cover-all gowns; what’s the point of getting tattoos if you’re just going to cover them up?
Klondike Days began to whither because too many people felt the connection to the Klondike was tenuous (which it is), and it was simply too much work. A few folks pine for K-Days, but not many. It had its day, but its day is done. So that leaves us with a parade, and an exhibition, without a central theme. Capital Ex was a bad idea, mostly, I think, because it failed to include the word Edmonton. Northlands hasn’t learned its lesson; only two of the six proposed names include Edmonton in the title. Here they are, with comments:
• EdFest: Not wild about his. Sounds too much like a nickname that the fair might earn over time rather than a real name. Also missing the full Edmonton name.
• The Edmonton Exhibition: Since the fair has no real theme, this works pretty well. It’s an exhibition, and it’s in Edmonton. What more do you need to know?
• Edmonton Summer Exhibition: Not bad, but the addition of the word ‘summer’ hints that there are other Edmonton exhibitions.
• River City Festival: Again, no Edmonton. While you might hear Edmonton called River City, it’s not in common enough parlance to merit a festival title. Besides, there are probably 15,000 cities with rivers that call themselves River City. And there are too many events in Edmonton using the word festival. It’s played out.
• River City Summer Fair: see above.
• K-Days: this is the only patently ridiculous suggestion. If you’re going to take a name like K-Days, the inevitable question will arise as to what the K stands for. The answer will have to be Klondike, and if that’s the case, when why don’t we just rename it Klondike Days? See the problem?
• The Edmonton Exhibition River City Summer Festival and Fair: I just made this one up, but it has a certain ring to it, doesn it?
Of the six, I prefer The Edmonton Exhibition. It’s an exhibition, and it’s in Edmonton. No confusion, no questions. I think it will be the winner, but the public will just call it the Ex, as they always have.