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Ricoh Coliseum

Farm Livin’ is the Life for Me: Where Toronto Previews the 98th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

For the next ten days, from November 4 to 13, the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place becomes a little less convention centre and a little more barnyard, as it hosts the 98th edition of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. We got a sneak peek at some of what’s on show at this year’s Fair, in the process acquainting our city selves with a bit of the country. By Rasheed Clarke

We crunched through scattered strands of hay and sidestepped splats of manure on our way to see cowboys practicing their riding technique on a bull of the mechanical variety. After a ride of our own on the spinning, bucking machine, Royal Rodeo organizer Ross Millar assured us that the 2,000-pound bulls featured in the Royal Rodeo (Sunday, November 6) will prove more of a challenge to the professional riders. The event, at the adjacent Ricoh Coliseum, pits top riders from across Canada against each other in barrel racing, bronco busting and bull riding competitions.

Next, we walked around the cattle barn and watched farmers trimming, washing and blow drying their livestock with all the attention to detail a Yorkville stylist would put into your coiffure. While the grooming sessions continued around us, we got intimate with an Ontario dairy cow. A few udder squeezes and there was enough milk (unpasteurized, natch) for a pot of coffee.

After dusting off our boots, we made our way to a set of showcases displaying prize-winning cheeses. It’s a shame they were under glass! We did, however, get close to a nearby block of butter and tried our hands at butter sculpting. Well, more like chiseling. The real sculptors will have their artistic creations judged next Thursday.

With butter carving crossed off our bucket list, we strolled the rest of the grounds and got a glimpse of the fair’s many other attractions: gargantuan vegetables, llamas and goats and ponies in the petting zoo, new products for city slickers and farmhands alike, and tasty treats made from local ingredients.

Yes, we can say from experience that this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is loaded with rural-style merriment. Plus, there’s the little matter of the Royal Horse Show, which runs for the duration of the fair at Ricoh Coliseum. This year’s show includes equestrian performances from Olympic gold medalists Eric Lamaze and Mark Todd, and former Toronto Maple Leafs Darcy Tucker, Curtis Joseph and Darryl Sittler trade their sticks for mallets in a game of “horse hockey.”

For more information on the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Royal Horse Show, and to purchase tickets, call 416-263-3400 or click here.

Weekend Roundup, July 22 to 24

Friday: Les Ballets Persans perform at the Tigran Iranian Festival

Friday, July 22

Get a taste of exotic art, culture and entertainment at the Harbourfront Centre this weekend with the Tigran Iranian Festival. Explore the concept of “Visions of Eternity” through the work of participating artists and writers, and take in live music from the Paradis Orchestra, Rana Farhan, and the Iranian National Choir.

Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival is more than just a parade—celebrate the salacious sights, sounds and flavours of the Caribbean with an elegant night at the event’s Gala. Dress your best for a night of masquerade models, music and exotic food at the elegant Liberty Grand.

“Do It Again” while “Reelin’ In The Years” when Steely Dan hits the stage at the Molson Amphitheater. The American jazz band still has a commanding stage presence with a slew of hits to play, including “My Old School” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”.

Saturday: The Blue Men Group strike up a charging show at the Princess of Wales Theatre

Saturday, July 23

They’re shocking, comedic, and blue—catch the Blue Man Group when they electrify the Princess of Wales Theatre tonight. The multi-media performance with the bald blue men is centered on a large LED curtain and high-resolution screen for a unique theatrical performance.

After starting their regular season on the road, the Toronto Argonauts finally return to the Rogers Centre for their first game of the season. Cheer on the Boatmen as they take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers looking for a win in front of a home crowd.

Cool down with the sound of the soothing melodies of the Forgotten Romantics at Walter Hall as the Toronto Summer Music Festival continues. The Vienna Piano Trio teams up with Canada’s leading chamber musicians to perform The Suite by Moszkowski, the masterful sextet by Louis Spohr, and the piano quintet by Karl Goldmark.

Sunday: Celebrate The Wiggles' 20th Birthday at Ricoh Colliseum (Photo courtesy of Ben Pharr)

Sunday, July 24

Wiggle on down to the Ricoh Colliseum to join in on The Wiggles’ Big Birthday Tour. The 20th birthday celebration will be packed with action including the four Wiggles, Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, and Wags the Dog.

Celebrate over 500 artists at Yonge-Dundas Square this Sunday for a day filled with high-spirited performances and art on display for Youth Day 2011. The square will be filled with inspiring music, dance, art, photography, food, and vendors to keep you entertained all day long.

The Big On Bloor Street festival continues on Sunday with stores along the Dufferin and Lansdowne stretch offering special in-store events, sales and menus. Have a taste of the diverse art, culture, and food that this neighbourhood has to offer.

Hot Date: Royal Winter Fair Brings the Country to the City

NOVEMBER 5 TO 14 So many horses and farmers in Toronto can only mean one thing—the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is back in town. Hundreds of farmers, livestock breeders and exhibitors descend on the city for this annual extravaganza, where visitors can get a taste of rural life through such events as the giant vegetable contest, the butter sculpture display, the rousing Royal Rodeo and the famed Royal Horse Show. Exhibition Place, Ricoh Coliseum, $16 to $20; call 416-872-7777 or visit here to purchase.