Tag Archives: Prairieland Park

Time for Prairieland Expansion?

For years I have had a grudge against Prairieland Park.  First of all, they tore down the historic Exhibition Arena which for some odd reason, I tended to play better there (and worse at Cosmo Arena).  The arena was old, smelled like a barn, had chain link fencing instead of Plexiglas but had a lot of character.  It was also home to hot Dr. Pepper which if you have never had it, you are missing out.  I still miss the old arena.

Secondly, they took out Wheatland “A” and “B” arenas which may have been the second worse idea in the history of Saskatoon (the bus mall is by far the worst) but it was a lot of fun to play at.

With Prairieland Park out of the hockey business, they got really, really good at the convention business.  The last month saw it hold Homescape, Gardenscape, and Draggins Rod and Custom Car Show.  The report that came back from all three shows was a) it was excellent and b) it was way too crowded.  Wendy and I tried to go to Gardenscape but there was just no parking and while we went early to Draggins and missed the worse of the crowds, it was shoulder to shoulder in there.  Yes there was the Batmobile but the big issue is that while Saskatoon has grown, Prairieland Park’s facilities haven’t kept pace with the demand. 

I remember the debate about the building location of Saskatchewan Place back in 1986.  The idea behind moving Saskatchewan Place outside of the city was the potential of tradeshows, events, and conferences going out there.  The building of Titan Auto Place seemed to reinforce the idea that conferences were headed north.  That seemed to be the way of the future until Prairieland Park was denied infrastructure dollars to move north and instead decided to upgrade and improve their facilities.  According to the website they have done $16 million in capital improvements and now have over 200,000 square feet in convention space.

Aerial view of Prairieland Park in SaskatoonIn doing such a fabulous job, they became Saskatoon’s premier convention and conference destination.  Not only have they upgrade facilities, they are really easy to deal with.  At work, our annual Toy Ride starts at Prairieland Park every year and each year, Prairieland Park staff is both accommodating and friendly to deal with as they go a long ways in making the event a success. (for the record, so is the Saskatoon Inn, where the event ends)

I don’t know where they would add the space but for the last couple of years I have been out there, I can’t help but feeling as if they could use one more big hall.  Not just for the conferences but even for the Ex.  It’s just crowded in there. I am not sure where Hall “F” will go but make sure it serves hot Dr. Pepper during the winter at it’s concession stands. 

The 2009 Saskatoon Ex

I posted some photos and videos over at Flickr from the 2009 Saskatoon Exhibition.  You can find my photos from 2008 and 2005 there as well.

This was the first year we bought Mark a Superpass.  For $32 he could ride all of the rides he wanted to on the midway.  I figure he rode about $75 worth of rides and the number would have been higher but the lines got longer as the night went on.  He road Zero Gravity (check out the video here) and the Gravitron (more video here) the most which boggles my mind.  The Gravitron had to be stopped a couple of times when he was on it to let sick kids off the ride but outside of having to walk off a corn dog, Mark was fine.

Here are some of the photos.

 Wendy Cooper modelling some fine looking eye wear Mark chilling out An albino Tigger The Drop of Doom Mark Cooper hunting his next victim Ollie checking out the scenery Kung Fu Panda The Ferris Wheel  Incoming! Wok & Roll Deep Fried snacks and desserts Mark on 1001 Nachts Whopper Water Pizza Corn Dog stand The Starship 2000  Ferris Wheel The Spyder The Sweet Spot

Rookie Mistake

On Thursday I went to an invitation only food show at Prairieland Park that was put on by one of the Centre’s suppliers.  The kitchen coordinator invited me along and since I was on vacation, I thought why not.  He told me there would be some coffee but vastly understated the amount of food there was to eat.

Basically the show was put on by a massive food distributor who invited all of it’s vendors to come and show of their best products.  Everyone was there and it was amazing.  Booth after booth of food that you can’t buy in grocery stores, all with wonderful samples to try.  We were often elbowed out of the way several times by chefs during their Iron Chef competition.  They had an area where you could chill (and digest) and watch chefs compete.  It was a fun diversion throughout the day.

Of course it wasn’t all perfect.  I now know how much food costs restaurants (yes I know overhead and wages are huge). I tried one product (and brought Wendy home a sample) of food that had been passed off as a family recipe by one restaurant we go to.  It isn’t.  It is a off the shelf product that isn’t available via retail channels.  I also saw many, many mass produced products designed with a “random” from the oven look.

The other bad part was that I made a rookie mistake.  I didn’t pace myself well and I didn’t block my tiny plate well enough.  I may be big but I am only mortal and I only made it 3/4 around the trade show before I was feeling full and we had two more times to go around (first found was talking and tasting, second round was negotiating, third round was dessert).  It was a pretty good experience.  My office is right next to the food services coordinators so when salespeople bring by good food, I often get a nibble and a chance to meet some of the people so they knew me.  I was also introduced as the kitchen’s greatest critic but I think that was just because I keep requesting we serve Kraft Dinner sandwiches

Here is what I learned while I was there.

None of the booth’s were that extravagant.  Just a lot of samples, information sheets, and sales people.  However a couple of booths had dried out samples, no sales people or even worse, uninterested sales people.  The problem was that there wasn’t a company there that didn’t have a competitor and if you competitor is “wow”ing people, I think that is a bad thing for you.

I also learned that the food industry is a tough one to be in.  A lot of bad mouthing of competitors was going on there.  They have a lot of people to impress.  The distributor, the wholesaler, and the restaurants while the whole time another company with a very similar product is telling everyone how inferior your product is. 

I learned there is such a thing as “liquid coffee”.  Coffee from concentrate.  I think that should be against the law.  One salesperson said it tasted as good as Starbucks while another salesperson said “Maybe coffee that Starbucks rejects as flawed.”

I also learned that one brand of fish is caught on the east coast of Canada, frozen and sent to China to be processed, frozen again and shipped back to Canada.  I wonder how many Newfoundlander’s lost their job over that change.

I was smart enough to bring Wendy home some samples and recipes and she forgave me for attending and not faking an injury and sending her instead.