A Royal Winter Fair
Country has returned to the city as The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair kicked off this weekend at Exhibition Place. From heifers and horses, to pigs and poultry the fair was bustling on its opening weekend.
This was my first visit to The Royal, now in its 88th year. I was slightly overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and scents of the fair as I made my way through its congested aisles. I felt a touch underdressed, as cowboy boots and hats were the apparel du jour.
My inner cowgirl was stimulated by the ample array of leather attire, horse blankets and riding gear available for purchase. Squeals of delight could be heard from children and livestock, as well as aromas of wet dog and damp straw permeated throughout the venue.
One of the many agricultural competitions being conducted at the fair is the 'My Giant Vegetable Challenge'. Massive pumpkins are prominently displayed alongside gnarly and mostly unidentifiable beetroot, kohlrabi and parsnips. Display cases showcase prize winning potatoes, apples, onions and garlic bulbs. I wondered how the produce was any different than the spuds available at my local supermarket. An outline of how the entrants were judged would have been helpful.
This area was by far the most colourful of exhibits as hues of straw, tan and all shades of bovine dominated most of the fair. Aside from the actual livestock, this area also felt the most natural for me. At the Journey to Your Good Health & Agri-Food Innovation pavilions, the theme centred around local & sustainable foods and farming. Yet somehow, seeing McDonalds hand out packages of their Ontario apple slices and Campbell's promote healthy home nourishment, I found that message to be lost.
Another proposed highlight of the fair was the butter sculpting competition. Surprisingly, I found this display to be quite engaging. Think live art exhibit, as student artists create sculpture based on the theme Celebration of Local Foods: the 100 mile diet with 25kgs of butter as their medium, all the while encased in a refrigerated trailer. The winning artist will be announced on November 11th.
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs until Sunday November 14th at Exhibition Place. General admission for adults is $20, with 2 for 1 tickets after 5pm.
Writing and photos by Jazmine Sangalang
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