OFT Volunteer ‘Shows Off’ at the Royal

Every year, the “country takes on the city” for just over a week long event in Toronto.  If the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is something you’ve never been to before, make sure to add it to the to-do list for next Fall!  We’re sure many people have already started a countdown started for next year.  The Royal is an event that has the potential to appeal to every type of person – there is something for everyone.

This year our volunteer, Christine, experienced the Royal with her 4-H Beef club.  She had a great time helping out the other members prepare for the show by getting their animal ready.  This involves quite the process.  It starts in the early hours of the morning by walking heifers inside and taking them to the washing area – where they wash the animals with soap and rinse them off with water.  Next, they are dried off and combed in a very specific manner.  Before it is time to get in the show ring, 4-H members glue (similar to hairspray) their calf’s legs and tails.  This is to make the hair stand up so the animal looks more “full”, which is an important quality especially for some breeds.   The show-person makes sure they have all the things they need to show – black pants, a collared shirt underneath their Royal show shirt, work boots, a comb in their back pocket, their show stick, and their exhibitor number in a harness.  After this process is complete, they head over to the marshalling area by the show ring with their animal’s harness in hand.  Once their number is called, they line up and enter the ring as the judge is ready for the next class of animals.  The cattle are led around in a circle, and then placed in a line in the order the judge signals them to go in.  This line determines their placing, and once the entire class is ranked, they exit the ring and receive their Royal ribbons.  The actual “showing” process often takes an average of about 5 minutes.  This seems like a very short time based on the amount of work that is done in advance to prepare for the Royal.  Members spend hours each week starting in the late spring to work with and train their project – for competitions at summer and fall fairs, specialized cattle shows, and finishing off the season at the Royal Winter fair – and it’s all for the love of cows and agriculture!

After helping participants in the National Junior Beef Heifer Show, Christine had a chance to walk around and see some of the other things offered at the event.  After grabbing a much anticipated and delicious Rosti potato, she wandered through the barns to see the other animals, including sheep, goats, chickens and other birds, rabbits, dairy cows, and her personal favourite – pigs!  Outside of the barns, there are vendors selling everything from horse tack & western clothes, to furniture & home décor.  The Royal Horse Palace is also quite amazing – you’re able to view the behind the scenes of getting the beautiful horses ready for their many different shows in the Ricoh Coliseum. There is endless entertainment scheduled throughout the 10 days, such as dog shows, concerts, a rodeo, and square dancing.

It’s so great to see the city being involved with our rural heritage in this agricultural fair in Toronto. All the more reason to support Ontario Farmland Forever!

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