The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is held every November in Toronto and has grown from its inception in 1922 to become the world's largest indoor agricultural and international equestrian competition.
Many schoolkids in Toronto and the surrounding area have fond memories of taking a school trip to the Royal to be fascinated by the animals, the butter sculptures, the horse show, the giant pumpkins, the livestock auctions and the food (omg...the food is fantastic! Cranberry fudge from Muskoka, Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, apple dumplings, bison burgers - so delicious!)
Almost 350,000 people come to this 10 day event to see thousands of unique entries from elite Canadian and International breeders, growers and exhibitors, over 4,500 large and small animals, shows, activities, shopping, dining and – of course alpacas!
Alpaca Ontario (http://www.alpacaontario.ca/index2.html) has a booth in the barns where people get to see alpacas up close and learn from us about this important domestic animal. We display fleece samples and skeins of yarn in all 22 of the original alpaca colours. As well we hand out magazines, brochures and answer thousands of questions.
Members of AO volunteer to man the booth and I've been lucky enough to work there for two days last year and one day this year. I never met an alpaca owner who didn't like to talk about alpacas, so it's the perfect venue for us although last year I literally couldn't speak after two days of answering questions!
This year I worked the booth with Lorraine and Andrew Taylor who own Lavender House Alpacas (http://www.lavender-house.net/) in Stayner. We had a great time and because Lorraine and I were both knitting, we attracted a lot of knitters who wanted to know where to buy Ontario alpaca yarn which in my opinion, is better processed than that from South America.
(As a side-note, alpaca owners never ask what you're knitting, they ask who you're knitting? "Oh, it's a bit of Serena's from last year." "This is a blend of Tina Marie and Rocky"......)
Here are some photos from this year's show:
I'll post more photos specific to the Alpaca Ontario booth in the next entry.