November 30 2009 by Bryson Forbes
Last Sunday, with Grandma in town from Calgary, we packed up the family for a visit to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto. The annual event is held at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds in the core of Canada's largest city.
Since the very first fair in November, 1922 the RAWF has grown to become the world's largest indoor agricultural and international equestrian competition.
The RAWF attracts more than 300,000 visitors to the greater Toronto area every November to see thousands of unique entries from elite Canadian and international breeders, growers and exhibitors, more than 4,500 large and small animals, shows, activities, shopping, dining and, of course, the Royal Horse Show.
From the moment we entered the farm we were struck by the volume of exhibitors, number of animals and the seemingly endless amount of things to see around each and every corner.
Our first major stop was at a routine display of farm tractors. It was the first time my kids, who we concluded have been far too urbanized, had ever seen a real live tractor. It reminded us how special it is to watch your kids see something for the first time.
From there, we caught a rabbit contest and literally saw hundreds of rabbits in every shape and colour you can imagine. In hindsight, I don't think the best marketing guru could have ever attracted me to a rabbit show, but being there, we all really enjoyed it.
We went from rabbits to award-winning cows. We now know that a cow is not just a cow. Did you know there are more than 800 breeds? We saw Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn--or more loosely described as big, small, brown, cream, black and even grey.
From cows to a horse race
My kids, who usually have short attention spans, sat and watched quietly, loving every minute of the 25 horses we watched compete in a pole race!
The finale for us was the President's Choice SUPERDOG show. A 45-minute display of well-trained dogs (Leap, Rally, Icon, Slingshot, Flapper and Pot Roast, to name just a few) that kept us on the edge of our seats with their antics and athletic feats.
With a seven and five year old in tow, we managed to spend five hours in what seemed like a blink of eye. To any parents out there, you can surely attest to the volume that statement speaks of the entertainment value of this fair. We thoroughly enjoyed the RAWF and will definitely make that a staple on our must-attend list for years to come.
If you've never attended or haven't been in a while, mark your calendar for November 2010. If you're coming in from out of town, make your plans early. Check www.bestwestern.com for a list of local properties to make a fantastic weekend. You won't be disappointed!