2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Site rant

So, you've decided to visit the Edmonton Fringe Festival. What can you expect? What's new? What's good and new? What's bad and new? What's good to still have? Let me try and enlighten you.

The first thing to say is pretty negative, so I'll get right to it: the food selection you have this year sucks. In past years, you could get Funky Pickle, Tony Roma's, and more. This year the north food court (across from the north beer gardens) is far smaller. There are only 3 booths, really. There used to be five or six. Meanwhile on the south side, the line of food courts is significantly reduced. My personal favourite, the sandwich place that does various italian-style sandwiches (including the Cuban and Mexican italian-style sandwiches) is long gone. No ribs, no funky pizza, no nothing. It's really quite annoying. There is a Mexican taco place which is good (taco in a bag is better), but very few places to replace the long loved favourites.

They do have those disgusting green onion cakes that hippies love, the Ukranian place, and several East Indian eateries. The one next to New Asian Village is the best, and it has great chili chicken. The Tandori chicken is also good. Again, the Mexican-style taco stand was a neat touch, but there's just a shortage of quality places. You can only eat so much East Indian food and poutine without getting the desire for something different.

As for other things missing, the famous carnival-style attractions (man without a face, she-spider, etc.) are missing, and all you get between the north beer gardens and KidsFringe is a bunch of bead and jewelry booths. I complained about these to Martok on Friday, and he replied that you need these bead booths to attract the hippies. Without hippies buying beads, he argued, do you really have a festival? Suffice it to say, he doesn't watch any of the fringe plays.

In other festival layout news, the TransAlta outdoor stage is much enhanced, you can watch a variety of well-designed acts on the north alternative to the Telus stage. Speaking of Telus, you can also win a 42" TV. Well, you can enter. I'm going to win, of course. There are a fair number of buskers, and the beer gardens are still alive and well. They have (er, had...) Big Rock Lime in cans, which I'd never seen before. Can you buy those retail? It would be awesome to find them in liquor stores. They're the same $4.50 as Trad and XO too, which is very awesome.

In other notes, have you been to the Stage 5 Fringe Cabaret Lounge venue in the back of the Arts Barns? They serve alcohol pre-show (buy a couple and enjoy the presentation), have tables for small groups to sit at, and have the rows of chairs zip-tied together. The zip tied chairs things is common, a couple venues do it, but I know it freaked out some twittering fringers. The highlight of the venue has to be this Borat-inspired door notice:

In other notes, if you're going to a play at Catalyst Theatre, dress cool: the venue is pretty warm. Not as warm as the drama queens waving paper programs on their faces at Never Trust a Naked Marriage Counsellor imply it is, but it is warm. Be forewarned. Also, of course, keep a close eye on your location. BYOV A and BYOV C in particular are significantly long trips from the Fringe grounds, so be very very very very careful. Also, of course, remember not to schedule plays close to each other. Leave at least an hour between shows. Drink beer, don't run and wind up late.

Bonus Link: The Edmonton Fringe Festival blog asks some of these same questions.