Sheplers. Wranglers. Oversized belt buckles. Stetsons. Polished halters. Braided manes. Glistening tack. Fresh food. Local vinos and craft beers. My favourite weekend of the year is almost here.
Attending the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto has become my late fall tradition. I trade in my stilettos for cowboy boots and get my country on. I spend hours upon hours admiring livestock exhibitors – and I don’t just mean the cowboys – and agricultural displays. I pig out, sometimes literally, then burn off calories by shopping. Not to get all cliché but yes, the Royal truly has something for everyone.
The Royal has maintained a traditional fair feel while putting it on a world-class, indoor stage. It’s a show that draws farms and exhibitors from around the world and combines rural with urban.
My time is spent like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth between the cattle and horse barns. I have such an appreciation for the commitment that both the young and young at heart put into their animals. They are incredibly proud to show them off.
Agricultural displays aren’t just about farmers. It’s an opportunity for junior farmers to exhibit the skills they have learned over the course of the year. 4-H emphasizes the importance of looking at the big picture; that youth need to see beyond themselves and focus on how their actions affect their relationships, their community, the environment and society as a whole.
The Royal Horse Show features both heavy and light horse competitions. It is the No. 1 ranked indoor equine competition in North America and showcases the talents of the best in national and international competitors. It is a prestigious event with over $800,000 in prize money and of course the title of Royal Champion.
What is fantastic about the Royal is you can get up close and personal with the animals. You can walk through the barns and see firsthand the love and care that goes into each one. Just keep your eyes peeled for patties! When you’re finished touring the barns, head out to watch the competition and judge who you think will win.
The eats at the Royal are mouth-watering, deliciousness. From cooking demonstrations to fine dining to traditional fair treats, there is no going home hungry. If you’re like me and the kitchen is your nemesis, you can discover easy, fresh food ideas from talented chefs and local producers.
If you’re looking for a unique date night, check out the The Royal Vineyard and Brew Pub. Food lovers will have a chance to enjoyRoyal Champion cheeses and VQA wines and craft beers at the “cinq a sept” happy hour.
Bringing the family out for a rural adventure? The last thing you’ll hear from your kids is, “there’s nothing to eat here”. There’s even a display that encourages kids to play with their food as they explore the path food takes from farm to the table.
I usually go home with a few extra pounds and taste buds in shock from all of the culinary spoiling that is the Royal.
Good ol’ fun
The Royal tradition started in 1922 when a small group of farmers, eager to catch-up after their busy fall harvest, got together. The only difference between then and now? The Royal has since grown into Canada’s premier event showcasing the best in agricultural, traditional and modern farming, world-class horse show and lots of other entertainment including:
- President’s Choice Superdogs
- 4-H rabbit jumping. Seriously. There’s rabbit jumping. Just ask Rick Mercer.
- Goats on the Go
- Sheep herding
- Jack Russell races
While the Royal is a girls getaway for me, it’s pretty awesome to see the light in the kiddos eyes as they take in the magic of the fair. Check out all of the fair highlights here.
Wrapped up in this video is pretty much everything I love about The Royal, minus a few dozen cowboys:
The 92nd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 7-16, 2014 in the Direct Energy Centre and Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.
Exclusive Behind the Scenes Contest
Want to make the Royal a part of your fall tradition? I have an amazing Behind the Scenes Exclusive package to give away. It includes a Family Pass (2 adult & 2 youth passes) to the Royal, valid on any day PLUS on Thursday, November 6 at 9:00 am you will attend an exclusive behind the scenes preview with CEO Sandra Banks, media and special guests. The Family Pass is a $52 value while the Behind the Scenes Exclusive preview and memories created are priceless.0