Friday, November 9, 2012

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

There were five teams and their beautiful wagons parading around the ring, high-stepping Clydesdales and Percherons moving pretty much in unison as they pulled the gleaming carts and then stopped to be judged on ability to back up, hold position and move forward. This was fun and the crowd was amazingly big considering it was only two o'clock on a weekday afternoon.

Every year, I try to go to the Royal to get my horse fix and other farm animal fix, see prize winners, and visit with my goddaughter. She has a beautiful booth every year, where she sells antique furniture and various other accoutrements that have been painted with horses, fox terriers, pugs, foxes anything related to horses and riding or driving.

The smells, the sounds, the sights of hundreds of little kids running around having a really exciting time, perhaps the first in which they've been able to be up close and personal with animals, is always for me a memorable experience.

I've no idea what kind of pigeon this is, but it was part of the bird show on that day. This one was trying to show the pigeon next to it that it was prettier, bigger, whatever as it puffed its chest up towards the male next to it. Comical  indeed.

But it took first prize in its category and its feathers were certainly pretty. So I suppose it had a right to show off.

These two postured and posed - different colours of what I think were the same species... again beautiful feather patterns, but equally funny in their own little competition. That's one of the things about the Royal - you see things you'd never expect in farm animals.

This handsome fellow - also a prize winner - spent a lot of time listening to me croon to him and obligingly turned so I would catch his best side when I asked. What a ham...

Speaking of ham, these two sleepy pigs hardly moved as a group of art school teens worked hard to capture them with their sketch books and pencils. The Royal is always a perfect opportunity for a day out for these young people who could be seen everywhere drawing industriously. Of course they probably never get the chance to go to the country and see these animals in a field. But then most animals aren't in fields any more are they?

These Dorset sheep have been carefully groomed for showing later and blanketed to make sure they don't get straw in their coats, as well as to keep them warm if they've been outside or in barns with long woolly coats. Last year I found some sheep in blankets made of camoflage ...  drawing comments from a couple of people who read my blog and noticed what I hadn't.

Greedy goats stick their heads through the slats of the fence in the petting zoo and are fed pellets that one can buy for a dollar or two.

We were treated to several little children who had never seen animals like this obviously, their eyes big and bright.  When we tried to help them feed the animals we were rewarded with even bigger smiles when little hands were immediately licked clean and more goats arrived to get some treats.

A llama joined the goats for a hand out. Children and adults alike - some apprehensive, some eager, all were delighted to be able to touch the animals. There were goats, sheep, alpacas, rabbits, all kinds of small animals that lured the children in for a real hands-on experience.

That's one of the beauties of the Royal - it's not only for farmers and breeders to show their prize stock, but also for children to get a chance to actually touch and learn about animals. What a joy to watch all this.

I drove home exhilarated and full of smiles... If you get the chance to spend even a half an hour at a similar fair - do give it a try - it is so much fun. There truly is something for everyone. And I had a great day at the fair! May you have a similar experience, different from your daily routine and fun!


  1. A great way to spend a day. It looks like it was really entertaining. There are so many agricultural animals it is astounding. From pigeons to pigs and everything in between, quite a variety!

  2. This day was a real treat for me - and yes the amazing variety of prize animals is simply phenomenal - dairy cows, desperate to be milked - calves being shaved of their winter coats, and the different kinds of birds - there were ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens - and a huge variety of them - Love this wonderful fair. The horse shows are also big draws and this year they had a rodeo. It's billed as one of the largest around, no midway, no barkers hawking wares, it's focus is all on animals. I could have taken 500 pictures and not captured it all I'm sure... thanks for stopping by Bill. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. And its an important way of keeping agriculture alive and well! These days farmers can use all of the recognition that they can get!