My wife (from rural Indiana) and I spent an absolutely marvelous day at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on November 8, 2012, courtesy of the Royal's Media Room....We skipped all the family activities (Petting Farm, Family Fun Zone) and headed directly for the Northern Ontario Pavilion. Here's where we annually drop the big bucks on such great foods as smoked fish from Purvis Fisheries, organic flours from Poschaven Farms (excellent buckwheat), different cheddar cheeses from Thornloe Cheese, sausages from Graywalk Buffalo, soaps and wool/fibres, and various snack foods and juices.
We walked over to the Royal Culinary Theatre and checked out the programme (spicy), visited the Royal Vineyard and Brew House, and noshed at the Royal Court Restaurant -- all on the way to the Ricoh Ring Coliseum for an afternoon with the horses.
You can divide the Royal into basically "horses" and "food". We had great seats for the equine display of junior amateur and international jumpers, including one with a prize of some $32,000, won by an American. This was followed by a hackney harness pony championshp, Belgian draft horses, and some more wagons and jumping. We then moseyed over to the Horse Palace where it all began, chatting up several participants (people, not horses) along the way and back. Brrrr, it was cold there, but I guess the horses love it.
On to the "food" - there was the butter sculpture winner (a pig), a Holstein show and subsequent sale, a sheep breeding judging, various milking exhibits, and sheep shearing. Of particularer interest were the new litters from two sows, one litter born Oct 28 (10 piglets) and one on Oct 29 (these moved too fast to count). They were feeding/eating all the time. Sad to say, the food nutrition Good Health section seemed to be under-attended: what does it take to give one a healthy sense of food?
We looked at the giant veggies, the grain award winners, the 4-H winners. We skipped the cows, rabbits, and poultry (couldn't find any chickens anywhere).
The Fair goes on through Sunday, well worth a visit, especially in the food-for-sale areas where many booths offer a discount as they clear out. We'll be back next year, and maybe we'll also take in Sunday.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus