The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Oh, The Royal, The Royal...where to begin?

I was there because of the Greenbelt display and my close association with the TRCA through BCPV meant I was (somehow) allowed to sign myself up for a bunch of shifts. Said shifts consisted of me reading my book on Tuesday, gaily handing out activity books to children on Wednesday, then aggressively handing out activity books to children while forcing others to learn about the Greenbelt on Thursday.

How do you force someone to learn about something? Basically accost them as they walk past, ask them if they are interested. Then, before they answer, tell them that they are in fact interested until they enter the display area. If that fails, telling them that learning about the Greenbelt and local food is the only way any of us will survive the zombie apocalypse also works.
(The point I was trying to make with the zombies is that a closed US-Canada border would see Toronto out of food in 3 days, I know zombie apocalypse doesn't explain this reality but it's all razzle-dazzle with kids these days.)

Not the most strenuous or all-consuming work so I had to find other things to keep me occupied.

Checking out the hot and heavy cock on cock action in the central ring:

Also, imagine these images facing one another...I'm too tired to make it work.

Food samples: Every break I was off touring, loading crackers with salsas and sauces, pretzels with spicy mustards, and stuffing my face with all sorts of cheese (goat cheese was big with lemon and cranberry and all sorts of party flavours). I didn't buy anything. For that I suck. Oh well.

Watching the Mennonites: No real commentary on this, it was just nice to see them about. Also, hearing that loverly German derivation they work amongst themselves is always mighty keen.

Rural chic: I forget how people look different sometimes. Growing up on a farm just outside Keady I like to think I'm well acquainted with rural Ontario life. I've hunted groundhogs, watched tractors bale hay for an entire afternoon, started then had to stomp out a grass fire on my property because the fire department was a 40 minute drive away, and as a result have fond memories of that culture (?) no matter how slick, urban and badass I've become.

I don't want to try to illuminate what I mean here, just acknowledge that differences exist and thank the world for people in all their belt-buckled, permanently-hatted, stern-faced, same-haircut-since-1964'd glory.
Milking: The cows hanging out, waiting to be shown, still need to be milked regularly lest they burst. Interestingly, they need to be full to the right degree before being judged. A challenging life.
I wasn't THAT interested in the milking process. There were, however, some beautiful girls doing some milking. I wanted to write a hilarious commentary on milk maids and eroticism, but now I can't. Oh well.

They did remind me, in a roundabout way, of the straight to the point nature of marriage and relationships for some. You find a spouse to partner with on the farm. You make babies with said spouse so there are more people able to lend a hand. Other concerns, aesthetics or soul mate status for example, tend to be outweighed by something termed necessity.

Dear lonely individuals interested in a bit of hard work and a warm body to sleep beside, farmers need you!

Pigs: saw some pigs. Here are little ones.
The Horsey Set: A huge part of The Royal are the horse related events. I saw some prancing wee fellas and some big work teams, I even saw Ian Millar (THE IAN MILLAR) up close and personal in the warm-up ring.
I also tried to take a really great photo. The punch line would have been about flanks, and it would have involved a combination of the following two images...you figure it out!
So many flanks...

But back to the horsey set. Evening shows at The Royal have an additional ticket attached and when I was leaving around 5, people were starting to show up for those. People were always dressed to the nines and sometimes beyond, in tuxedos and gowns.

I think this part of the fair is a great vestige of old Toronto (or perhaps old Ontario more broadly). All the self-styled gentleman farmers from around the province toodling down to Hog Town for The Royal, celebrating their good breeding and that of their animals with lots of booze and party.

Nothing says juxtaposition like a bar in a barn with a sign at the door saying "Private Club - Dress Code in Effect".

I'm expressing these ideas based purely on a general sense I have of Toronto social history. I wonder how significant it is on social calendars now versus 10, 20 or however many years ago? I wonder how many non-white people attend the glorious evening galas? Do any of the head-scarfed ladies guiding their children around the fair at 2 in the afternoon come back in the evening? (Doubtful on that last one.)

Oh jeeze, now I'm thinking of all the interesting and fun research directions that could emerge from a socio-historical analysis of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Maybe I do belong in academia, or maybe I just need to start a marketplace where I can sell people thesis titles.

Okay, time to bring things back down...way down. I had an unfortunate habit of taking pictures of animal's behinds. With the fowl it was because I wanted to make this fella look intimidating. Monster bird!
With this cow I just thought the udder looked funny, it was only later I noticed the...amazed face. Do you see it?
Then I became entranced with this cow's hips.
No one seemed particularly perturbed (and I assure you there were many more photos than these three), but maybe people pegged me for a judge or something. And for the people that think the hips look a little skinny, don't worry. These fine ladies are well-fed, but they are bred to give milk and milk doesn't need big fat hips.

And finally, it's time to play a game! What is it?
A map of an island off the coast of Scotland?
Okay, maybe an archipelago. With some weird undersea ridging.
Why, that's the craziest map I've ever seen!
Oh, it's a cow.

A freshly shorn cow looks so dapper and given that this one was standing right beside the salon (or what passes for a salon in a cow barn) she was the dapperest of all. I wonder if the guy doing the cutting is a full-time cow trimmer or he's just a farmer with a passion.

And where were all the bulls? I didn't go looking but I'm willing to bet farmers leave the bulls at home. Too much animal, too much danger. Save'em for the rodeo.

I think I've said enough. Other stuff happened too, but that was just me flirting with random ladies and we all know how that ends. HILARIOUSLY. So if I'm going to write about any of that it'll get its own post.


  1. i went to the royal agricultural winter fair last year, and they definitely had bulls. i think i was there on bulls day, in fact. those dudes are huge and terrifying.

    neat fact: to keep the bulls all calm, the handlers have a stick with a nail pointing out at the bottom, with which they scratch the armpit/belly of the bulls. they seemed to like it.

  2. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/heartache-in-quebecs-farming-heartland/article1200128/

    here's an article about lonely farmers from this past summer.

    what a babe.

    my aunt's reaction "who wants to be a farmer's wife?"

    jamie, julia and myself, in unison, "i do!"