Monday, November 9, 2009
The Royal Winter Fair--Toronto, ON, Canada
What an exciting week it has been in Toronto and at The Royal Winter Fair and Horse Show!
I arrived in Toronto last Wednesday to attend The Royal on behalf of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Now Kentucky is known for its southern hospitality, but I have found hospitality is not something you can only find in the South, or in the United States. The people in the city of Toronto could not be more welcoming, laid-back, and helpful –especially the street car drivers who know a first time visitor when they see one!
Toronto is a city of 5 million people, which is immense in comparison to Lexington’s 250,000. In Toronto you see street cars, buses, pedestrians, and taxis everywhere, and the movement of people and automobiles is endless. Drive five minutes out of downtown Lexington and you see rolling pastures, grazing horses, and endless bluegrass. In other words, Toronto is the last place you would expect to see cows and pigs and horses being unloaded from a trailer while waiting for a street car….but we did!
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Horse Show is truly where country meets city. Among the horses, cows, and pigs, there are also sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, and dogs. There are multiple exhibition areas that house all types and breeds of animals, as well as food from around the world and tradeshow vendors from all over Canada, and the United States.
I was born and raised a city girl in Washington, DC and ended up in Kentucky because of horses. I have never been to a state fair, so the idea of showing livestock was very new to me. Did you know that they blow-dry cows? And that sheep wear these blankets that cover every part of their body to keep them clean? I am still very intrigued, and I think this might warrant a trip to the next Kentucky State Fair.
Our booth for the two weeks of The Royal is next to the Canadian National Equestrian Federation, and is among the “Spirit of the Horse” exhibit, which will be similar to the 2010 Games Equine Village. In fact, several of the demonstrators will be at the 2010 Games. Ruth Sturley, Kentucky Cup Endurance participant and 2010 Games hopeful, has done a demonstration about the discipline of Endurance on her Arabian (who has competed in the past 3 World Championships!). Also giving a demo this week is “Two As One Horsemanship,” who will be participating in the Equine Village next year.
Many people have stopped by to tell us how excited they are for the 2010 Games, or that they are interested in coming. With my trip coming to a close, I realize that my job really is one of a kind. And while the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be a little different than the “country meets city” feel of The Royal Winter Fair here in Toronto, I look forward to what lies ahead, and in the meantime, I think I’ll just stick to horses.