For over 100 years, The Midway has been a big draw for those visiting the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1937, the world-famous travelling amusement company Conklin Shows began providing and operating the games, sideshows and rides for the annual fair. Today, those same thrills are provided by North American Midway Entertainment, the company that purchased Conklin Shows in 2004.
The Midway Games & Prizes
Games like Whac-A-Mole, Water Race, Skee Ball, Duck Pond, Balloon Darts, One in Wins, and Ring-A-Bottle tempt passers-by with the pride of winning a coveted plush toy. And, the harder the game, the bigger the prize. But before the stuffed animals, lucky winners at fairs in the early 1900s were awarded food, hats, plaster statues, and cigarettes. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, grocery items like ham, sugar, or tins of coffee were given as prizes since necessities were more important.
During the more recent CNEs, it takes twenty-six tractor-trailer trucks to deliver 270,000 stuffed toys for prizes each year. Some of the most popular plush prizes are Pikachu, Smurfs and the Bavarian Bear. Did you know there are over 110 games on The Midway?
The History of Stuffed Toys
The origins of stuffed toys are thought to have begun in Germany by a businesswoman named Margarete Steiff. When Margarete was a child, she contracted polio, which paralyzed her legs. She overcame her challenges and became a skilled seamstress. Ms Steiff operated a shop where she sold felt clothing and household items she made. In the 1870s, Margarete found a pattern for a small stuffed elephant in a magazine. She made one for her shop and used it as a pincushion. She noticed when customers came to her shop, their children loved playing with it as a toy.
Ms Steiff began producing the tiny elephants as toys; by the mid-1880s, her company had sold over 5,000 of them. The Steiff Company that Margarete founded over 140 years ago is still in business today, making all kinds of plush toys.