This past weekend my daughter and I drove to the city's edge and hit the subway to attend the annual Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. We hadn't been to this event since she was a wee girl, back when she really, really wanted to meet Ian Millar's valiant steed Big Ben, a prolific Grand Prix jumper.
We rode the subway downtown and caught the 509 Streetcar from Union Station. I didn't realize my daughter had never been on a streetcar. We rattled along Queen's Quay, passing Harbourfront and almost got off a stop too early. A couple with a toddler did get off too early and I guess they had to walk the rest of the way. Good thing they had a stroller.
The venue was huge. Retail booths filled the main concourse and I checked out a pair of leather riding boots. Seven hundred bucks!
We followed our noses to the food section and joined an infinite lineup for ten dollar chicken fingers. After ten minutes we lost patience and wandered about until we found a place that sold Chinese food. Eight bucks for a scoop of white rice and one spring roll and a few broccoli florets, but it gave us enough energy to carry on.
We found the cow exhibits and I waited while Beth sketched a few of them. I still can't get over how funny looking cows are. It's a miracle they can walk with those Dolly Parton udders between their legs. Hip bones and shoulder blades stuck out everywhere as they lounged in thick beds of straw. If aliens ever landed on Earth and saw a cow, they'd probably laugh their gills off.
The sheep were cuter. We saw sheep with coats, sheep with smiles and sheep with dreadlocks. One unfortunate Suffolk was in the middle of a panic attack, climbing the rails and blaring like an ambulance. Several keepers descended on the fellow to settle him down.
I picked a chunk of sheared wool off the floor and stuck it in my bag, but Beth made me throw it away. Humpf.
We climbed a steep wooden ramp to the upper levels of the Horse Palace and watched Arabians trot around a ring and looked at Percheron asses sticking out of standing stalls.
I watched chickens lay eggs and sampled jams, jellies and incredibly hot mustards.
Just before leaving, a voice over the PA system said, "Will the owner of a brown and white beagle puppy please report to the Lost Children Booth."
You gotta love agricultural fairs, even in the city.