On Tuesday Tristan and I went to the Royal Winter Fair again. We went last year too. It's the upscale version of a country fair, with lots of booths selling stuff I wouldn't normally associate with a fair. But they do still have lots of cows and goats and sheep and chickens, lots of judging competitions and horse shows.
We caught the bus near our street and it took us all the way to the Fair in downtown Toronto. They have to change the route of this particular bus because of the Fair, but our driver apparently did not know that and proceeded down the route the bus usually took. And very quickly we were surrounded by cows! The driver didn't know what to do. He slowed right down and started wondering out loud if maybe he was supposed to be somewhere else. Then there was a barricade across the street and he knew he was supposed to be somewhere else! So he made a right turn onto a street that was not part of the route; he was laughing, we were all laughing, as he created a new route for his bus. I pointed out the entrance to the Fair to him and he pulled over to let us off. No bus stop, not even a bus route, but we were in exactly the right place!
We started with the Superdog show. It's great fun, the dogs seem to hugely enjoy their moments in the spotlight. There was one performance of a border collie salsa dancing with his Brazilian trainer; I'm not sure who I was more impressed with, the handsome Brazilian or the amazing collie!
Sorry, couldn't photograph the Brazilian---I mean the border collie---my camera couldn't pick up things in motion so I only got photos of people and animals that weren't moving too fast.
We collected a few free food samples and pamphlets, checked out the poultry. Male turkeys were strategically placed in adjacent cages so they were in a constant state of arousal, fanning their tails and slowly turning to display themselves in all directions, gobbling all the way. Not to be outdone, roosters crowed and ducks chattered.
We watched some lambs being judged. The lambs did not seem too happy about this, the judge kept pinching their backs and thighs; I suspect he was checking how meaty they were and the lambs knew darn well what that was about. Later I saw three of the lambs huddled together in a pen, they looked like they had been through hell and were just standing there, shell-shocked.
We saw lots of jumping horses, a few little horses pulling little two-wheeled carts with very fancily dressed drivers, and four teams of big Percherons pulling huge wagons. The Percherons were impressive, each team consisted of four huge horses decked out in black and silver collars and harnesses, the wagons each held two drivers in cowboy hats, one to hold the reins and the other to hold the whip. The whip-holder didn't actually use the whip, but when the wagons halted it was his job to jump down and hold the horses still. I have no idea how they judged these teams, but in any case the team from Nova Scotia won.
The last jumping show we watched had horses and riders from all over the world and the jumps were quite high and wide. I found myself holding my breath as each horse attempted to clear a jump, it was quite suspenseful. The course was in two parts, if a horse and rider made it through the first part without any problem then they could continue into the second part, but more than half were disqualified after the first part. One rider was thrown from his horse after a jump, but he was OK and everyone applauded as he left the arena. Getting applause for falling in a competition may seem odd, but it did seem like a nice thing to do.
Tristan always wants to go into the car races, so I bought him one round. They are little radio-controlled cars and it takes the kids most of the race to learn how to control their cars, but if one kid manages to get his car across the finish line then he gets a little checkered flag. Maybe next year Tristan!
Then there is the petting farm, for two bucks you get a little cup of feed and can dole it out to the goats and llamas and calves who clamour at the fence. It is complete raucous chaos but of course the kids love it, and the goats and llamas gladly compete for the food treats.
I was tired before I went, utterly exhausted by the time we got home in the late afternoon. But I love the Fair, and we had a good time.