Today, the farmers still get together and compete in various competitions but it has also become a way for the city-folk to learn about agriculture and about where their food comes from.
We didn't spend too much of our time viewing the competitions or showings. I'm sure they would have been more interesting if I knew what in the world they were doing out there! We did, however, check out a lot of the animal displays. Who doesn't love listening to the sheeps baaa's and the cows mooing. A favorite, however, were the cute little baby chicks.
Another crowd favorite at the Royal is the butter sculpting. Apparently, student artists are given a 25kg block of butter and have only one day to create their masterpiece. We saw this guy carving out a pig.
There's always a lot for the kids to do, of course! We put together puzzles, jumped in a bouncy castle, played some trivia games, and even had a chance to 'milk' a cow; a pretend cow, that is.
While walking around visiting the booths we sampled a lot of food and also had a chance to get a lot of free stuff too. The Ontario Apple Growers were giving away bags of carrots that were just picked on Friday in the Holland Marsh. The bags were just flying off the table!
They weren't just giving away carrots, though. They're the Ontario Apple Growers! Obviously they would also be sampling apples. Here, they were sampling Macintosh, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia apples.
At the Foodland Ontario booth there were a few things going on. I picked up my new copy of the 2012 recipe calendar (make sure you pick up a copy; it looks AWESOME this year!) and they had a few games for the kids too. My daughter had a chance to spin the wheel and landed on 'honey'. Her question was: Why do bees dance? (or something to that effect). The answer was 'to attract and let the other bees know that there was nectar to be found in that area'. As a prize she could choose to take an apple, a bag of Ontario popcorn, or a flower. She chose the bag of popcorn.
When we had first arrived and had begun walking around I heard a familiar voice coming from the cooking stage. I soon realized that it was Lynn Ogryzlo's voice. She was starting her presentation and was going to be making an Onion Tart using onions from the Holland Marsh. After the show we were able to sample the dish. It was delicious!
P.S. Don't forget about my November cookbook contest - I have a copy of Lynn Ogryzlo's cookbook to give away. Simply let me know how you'll be eating local this winter on my Facebook Page, on Twitter (@swontariofoodie) or as a comment to this post.
The Northern Ontario section is always a great place to visit. I had a chance to see Wendy from Johnston's Cranberries, saw lots of maple syrup, and got some information about trout farms near Little Current. One booth was even milling some flour on-site.
You know what though? I really wish that other parts of Ontario were also displayed. Last year, the Ottawa region was profiled next to Northern Ontario, but this time Ottawa wasn't there, just the North. I think it would be great to have a Toronto aisle, a Southwestern Ontario aisle, a Niagara aisle, etc..
One good change at the fair this year was that the Harvest Market was moved from it's hidden location on the 2nd floor to the main floor right across from the 'Journey to Good Health' area. I bought some paprika from Meleg's Orchard (from Kingsville) and for a treat, some honey sticks to snack on.
It wouldn't be an agricultural fair without food to munch on, right? Well, there was no shortage of food that's foresure. Check out these apple dumplings; yes, there is an entire apple in there. I didn't have one but they looked delicious.
In the Journey to Good Health area Becel was offering free cholesterol tests to everyone. I have never had mine checked before so I thought it would be fun to do it just to see where I'm at. Well, let's just say that the nurse's eyes pretty well popped out of her head when she got my reading. Yes, as per the proof below, my cholesterol was off-the-charts low. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it definitely wasn't from eating their margarine and that I typically eat butter instead. Not just butter, but eggs, beef, and salt too. I'll take that as proof that eating REAL foods is what our bodies need, not processed junk.
Speaking about margarine,....what they have to do with agriculture, I'll never know.... That's my only gripe about the Royal... Why is it that there are so many corporations and brands that get in there that really shouldn't be. There was Becel, there was Shneiders with their 'natural' processed meats, Pizza Pizza, etc.. Lots of people just there to market and make money. It sort of takes away from who should really be there - the farmers!!