I’m a fake country girl. Sure, I live in the city and work a 9-5 office job, but if there’s an event that involves some farm animals, local markets or a 2 hour drive outside of the downtown core, I’m there!
I try my very best to go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (or the ‘RAWF’) ever y year and this year I was given tickets by Ontario Milk ( Thanks so much, @OntarioMilk) to attend! I brought my fiancé, who needed a little convincing as he is definitely not as ‘fake country’ as I am.
So without delay, here’s what you can do at the RAWF this year!
Hit up the Burnbrae Farms Food & Lifestyle Stage!
This was one of our first stops! We were lucky enough to watch Chef David Wolfman prepare a duck dish with vanilla salt and pure maple syrup with a side of Iroquois white corn, roasted beans and lentils. He was promoting his Indigenous Fusion cook book and I was interested to watch since I haven’t really sampled any Indigenous food before. I’m seeing a few restaurants offering more traditional dishes downtown now and it’s really inspired me to finally try it for myself! (I’ll keep you updated).
Sample some snacks and goods from local farms and bakeries!
I always love seeing what treats the RAWF has in store for me! I’m a huge fan of butter tarts and the ones from the Tartistry café in Etobicoke looked like art! I picked the maple walnut tart which was just delicious. Luckily enough for me, they are a short drive away and I’ll be able to check out one of their café jazz nights and sample a few more flavours! Leo tried maple syrup taffy. A man from the Quebecois syrup farm poured pure maple syrup onto ‘snow’ and stuck a popsicle stick on the end of the strip. After a minute or so, Leo was able to roll the stick up the strip slowly to create what looked like a lollipop. ‘Don’t be trying this with regular maple syrup at home!’ the man advised ‘You have to boil it first!’
Another stop I make every year is to the Albion Farm booth for the yummiest pepperette sticks I’ve ever had! (I bought 10 and don’t expect them to make it through the week)
Something new we tried this year was a protein bar made out of CRICKETS. Yep, crickets, and according to their spokesperson, there are about 40 crickets in every bar. Now, I’ve eaten crickets on vacation in Thailand before, so I felt up to the challenge and sampled the lemon lime bar. It was surprisingly good with only a very slight after taste. They’re called Crickstart Bars and if I’m ever in need of insect protein I can grab them from Loblaws, who knew?
Also, after the goat yoga class I took on Friday (Check out my last post!) I just had to visit the Haute Goat booth to see what goods those goats helped create! I sampled some caramel corn make with goat’s butter (yum) and bought 4 bars of goat’s milk soap with scents so delicious I almost wanted to taste them.
Say hello to some animals!
You’re never too old for a petting zoo! I always get a kick out of saying hello to the goats, sheep and alpacas! They are just too darned cute to skip. Special guest in the petting zoo this year was funnily enough, Rick Mercer. He was filming a segment for the Mercer Report surrounded by goats and I’m looking forward to watching it when it airs.
Now, we don’t know all that much about cows and bulls but we watched a bit of the Bull show and saw some of them being judged. These cows and bulls were SO well taken care of, why did they have a better hair stylist than I did? How do they smell so good? Are those lashes real?! Not really knowing how to judge these super pretty cows, we just ended up choosing our favourites based on cuteness level and any distinguishing marks on their hides.
See artists sculpt masterpieces out of butter!
This always seems like such a funny competition, but I always want to stop by and see what sculptures there are every year. The best one I’ve ever seen was the ‘Toronto Dead Raccoon’ phenomenon turned to butter sculpture at the CNE a few years ago. The things people come up with! This year we saw a man sculpting a totem pole, a cow being milked and a baby pig riding a mama pig.
Sample some of the best brews Northern Ontario Breweries have to offer!
I’m pretty sure this was a new attraction! I’m a beer nerd, so it was exciting to stumble across this sampling bar! At $2 a sample, you could try a favourite brew from smaller Northern Ontario brewery with some cheese pairings. What I thought was so smart about this was that 6 Northern Ontario breweries teamed up to create the ‘Northern Ontario Sixer’ mixed six back that’s now available in the LCBO. Some of the breweries were a little obscure that even I haven’t even heard of them before, so I think getting them out there as a group is a great way for them to get noticed.
They call themselves the Northern Ontario Brewers Alliance (NorthernBrewers.ca) and the featured ales were:
Rye Road Pale Ale by Highlander Brew Co.
Forgotten Lake Blueberry Ale by Lake of the Woods Brewery
Bridal Veil Pale Ale by Manitoulin Brewery
Bear Runner Blonde Ale by New Ontario Brewery
Northern Logger Golden Ale by Sleeping Giant Brewery
Panache Session IPA by Stack Brewery.
Check them all out at the LCBO now!
See giant vegetables!
Pretty self-explanatory but check out some of these veggie giants! I’m pretty sure this was the largest pumpkin I’ll ever see in my life… and now I’m thinking about a massive slice of pumpkin pie.
Now, this was all we had time for this year but there is so much more to see!
Horse shows, live performances at the Boots and Hearts bar and even a craft beer festival taking place November 10th! For more info on all these great events, check out RoyalFair.org
See you at the Fair!
Until Next Event! X
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.