The Canadian National Exhibition or as it’s often called, ‘The Ex,’ is back in Toronto for its 136th year.

The 18-day fair features a variety of exhibits, concerts, pavilions, a casino, a large carnival and lots of food — including some odd sounding concoctions

The exhibition officially began today, with a military salute in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Great War kicking off the opening.

CNE general manager David Bednar said the real focus is bringing families and friends together.

'We spend so much of our lives dealing with screens,” Bednar said. “TV screens, iPads, screens attached to our belts. This is something you can't get on a screen; you're with family and friends. It’s an in the moment experience.”

CNE

The Canadian National Exhibition opened for its 136th year today. (CNE/Twitter)

Organizers of this year’s CNE say they are getting back in touch with the fair’s roots by bringing in a more rural country theme.

There will even be a saloon, line dancing, fitting music and rows of barnyard animals.

History

In 1846 the Provincial Agricultural Association and the Board of Agriculture for Canada West sponsored a fair in Toronto where manufactured good and crafts were displayed.

Future fairs were held in carious other locations, again coming to Toronto in 1852.

However, in 1878 the city and local Exhibition Committee wanted the event to find a permanent home in Toronto.

In 1879 the Toronto Industrial Exhibition was founded.

“It was ‘the place’ where people came to experience the best and the brightest from the latest innovations in technology and commercial products to the greatest performers of the time,” the CNE’s website says.     

The name was changed from the Toronto Industrial Exhibition to the Canadian National Exhibition in 1912.