The best in farm animals, horses, crops and more are about to converge on Toronto for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and once again plenty of Prince Edward Islanders will be on hand.
Billed as the largest indoor agricultural, horticultural and equestrian fair in the world, the Royal has for more than 90 years brought the country to the city.
Exhibitors and competitors from across Canada, as well as the United States and beyond, will compete for the highly sought awards at this prestigious event.
Some 300,000 visitors will make their way through the doors of the Royal during the 10 days of operation. Guests from more than 50 countries will come to Toronto just for the event.
Many of the expected 3,500 international visitors will come looking to buy some of Canada’s top agricultural genetics which will be showcased.
The fair is no small potatoes for Canada’s largest city as the Royal Winter Fair generates more than $35 million in spending annually.
Along with animal competitions, the Royal offers divisions for field crops, apples, wines, jams and jellies and more.
Last year, the wine competition featured 182 entries and has become a major venue for winemakers to showcase their products to the world.
The fair offers patrons a unique opportunity to shop at a variety of booths while taking in the event. More than 225 different shops are set up in the National Trade Center offering for sale food, hand-crafted treasures, antiques and items for the home and farm.
For many, the Royal is an opportunity to start some early Christmas shopping.
Education has long been an important part of the Royal’s mandate. As society becomes more and more removed from the farm and rural living, it has become increasingly important to inform people where their food comes from. In keeping with that theme, the Royal provides a number of educational centres throughout the fair telling the farm-to-plate story.
Many of the people who visit the fair are from the city so this part of the Royal is vital.
In addition, the event welcomes some 18,000 school students who come as part of field trips.
Prince Edward Island has been a part of the fair since the first show in 1922.
A variety of P.E.I. exhibits will be in competition and will show the world what this tiny province produces. Island youths will
make their way to Toronto to participate in the national junior shows for both beef and dairy cattle.
More than 80 judges from around the world will be brought to Toronto to sort through the exhibits and award the prizes. To be asked to judge at the Royal is a honour for anyone who has ever been asked.
This year’s list of judges includes one Islander, Bloyce Thompson from Frenchfort, who is judging the National Red and White Holstein show.
The Royal Winter Fair opens on Friday, Nov. 1, at Exhibition Place and runs until Nov. 10.
Trevor MacDonald of Murray River is a long-time Royal watcher and participant.