This article on the CNE Boomers Building appeared in the Toronto Star on Thursday, August 15, 1996
BY NICK KREWEN
If you were born between the years 1946 and 1966, congratulations: The Canadian National Exhibition has just dedicated a building in your honor.
Tucked away from the midway traffic and carnival rides, The Boomers Building is a spanking new feature at this year's Ex, aimed at giving the generation that reportedly has it all even more to choose from.
Nestled in the Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall and open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the life of the C.N.E., The Boomers Building offers fun, games, prizes and helpful hints to "one of the first generations who want to continue to pursue life to its fullest even as they reach middle age" -- or so trumpets the hype sheet from the Exhibition press flacks heralding the new venture.
Everything from Tai Chi demonstrations and gourmet pizza to home renovation tips and a video golf simulator known as "Double Eagle II" has been designed to appeal to the rapidly maturing Yuppies, who seem willing to crack open their nest eggs and allow some of the financial yoke to seep from their wallets in order to entertain themselves now that their kids have flown the coop and their mortgage worries are in check.
Or so goes the theory in these volatile '90s.
Assuming that the majority of baby-boomers passing through the CNE gates haven't been affected by job displacement, an unsettled economy and other related stresses, The Boomers' Building could be their ideal haven from the blaring music and shrill barkers yelling, "Hey Mista! Hey Lady! Over here..."
For those who once lived by the carefree credo "Whoever has the most toys wins!", The Ultimate Toy Package awaits.
At the conclusion of the Fair, one lucky winner will drive away behind the wheel of a canary yellow 1954 Belvedere Convertible; a CAl BPS hot tub, a two-week motorhome vacation, flying lessons, and pool table in tow...presuming, of course, the affluent Boomer hasn't previously indulged in any of these amusing trinkets.
To answer questions regarding your savings and investments, renowned Canadian financial experts will be on hand to offer advice on everything from mutual funds to strip bonds in The Finance Area, one of eight convenient subdivisions provided in The Boomers Building.
Need to discover 1001 uses for ordinary household items such as shaving cream? Author GRAHAM HALEY will provide four 30-minute daily shows of "Haley's Helpful Hints," revealing all the handy secrets that may be lurking in your kitchen cabinets.
State-of-the-art kitchens will slice, dice, wok and grill the cholesterol out of your low-fat diets as Vinecorp, manufacturers of Sawmill Creek Wines, educate you on the history of wine making. For those who enjoy vintages of another flavor, Boomers can visit the CNE Archives Area and check out an impressive display classic automobiles from the '50s, '60s and '70s. You'll also be able to wax nostalgic about the CNE's "Good Ol' Days" as short documentaries revisiting those prior decades are unspooled for your viewing pleasure on retro TV sets.
On the Main Stage, a trivia game hosted by ROBBIE LANE called "The Times Of Your Life " will test your knowledge of music and fashion over the past three decades as the studio audience competes for -- you guessed it -- fabulous prizes!
From August 24-31, stress control expert ELI BAY offers three hour-long demonstrations of techniques ranging from deep breathing to muscle relaxation. When you're tired of learning how to keep from being tired, you can head over to The Boomers' Cafe to munch on the aforementioned gourmet pizza, "light lunch fare" and a glass of wine, in either air-conditioned surroundings or on a patio.
There's no doubt that the post-war baby boom has been analyzed, dissected and reported ad nauseum, but the truth of the matter is that the aging population demographic is still the most economically powerful of all age groups. In his book Boom Bust & Echo, author and University Of Toronto economist and demographer DAVID K. FOOT reports that the baby-boom generation comprises 9.8 million people: one-third of Canada's population.
Last year, over 1.6 million people came through the CNE turnstyles, with 22% of that total representing boomers from 35-44, and another 10% accounting for the 45 to 54 year olds.
DAVID MARSKELL, director of marketing for the CNE, said The Boomers Building was originally conceived as a senior exhibit remedy to boost attendance in the 45-plus age bracket.
"Part of the challenge of marketing the CNE is that we need to appeal to everybody," he says.
Although Marskell admits that The Boomers Building will probably appeal more to someone 40-plus than in their 30s, he's confident the exhibit will be a success.
Author Foot is less convinced.
Reluctant to comment to The Star because he hadn't seen The Boomers Building, Foot described the aging boomers as a population more interested in birdwatching than flying lessons.
However, he chuckled when informed of the contents of The Ultimate Toy Package being dangled as a carrot.
"The hot tub makes sense in terms of soothing their aching backs," he quipped.
THANKS: Mitch Potter, Leslie Taylor
©1996, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink
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