Memories of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair by Vanessa Hadwin

This year, I was fortunate to receive the Jack Pemberton Youth Development Bursary and attend The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

On Nov. 6th, 2022, my mom and I hopped on a plane and flew four hours to Toronto, ON. We got to the hotel and decided that it was time to find our way to The Royal. A few wrong stops on the streetcar later, we were walking under the beautiful arch to enter the building.

We were lucky enough to just catch the end of the beef show, so we watched the Black Angus and Supreme shows. As my mom and I wandered around, we discovered the large vegetable display and the Superdogs show. On day one, we also ventured through part of the trade show as well as the beef, dairy, and goat barns.

On day two, my mom and I decided that we wanted to explore the big city. We walked to Union Station, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, the old courthouse, CN tower, and Ripley's Aquarium. All these stops left us with many pictures and an appreciation for old architecture.

After lunch, we made our way back to The Royal and caught the last bit of Dairy Showmanship. This was very interesting as it is completely different from showing beef cattle, which I do regularly. I learned so much about dairy, from how they are clipped to how they are shown. We finished off the day by exploring more of the trade show.

The next day we went for a nice breakfast and then headed to The Royal office to be presented with the award. I got to meet the President of The Royal, Shelley Peterson, and several executive members. Since Mr. Jack Pemberton passed away a few months ago, I didn't get the chance to meet him, but everyone told many stories about him so I could picture what he was really like. He sounded like a very humorous, knowledgeable, and passionate man who I would have loved to have gotten the chance to meet.

At the end of our visit, I was presented with the award, and we said our goodbyes. I then went back to the dairy barns to meet up with some friends I had from a past 4-H exchange. We visited for a while, and they told me some tips to understand more about the dairy industry.

The Ring of Excellence was our next destination. We watched the 4-H Dairy pen of three classes. There were around 175 animals in the ring at one time. The biggest class that I had ever been in was one of around 20! At the end of the day, we went to the horse show, where we watched the Hunters derby, the RCMP Musical Ride, Roadster ponies, and dressage.

This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and provided me with the opportunity to learn, network, and of course, have fun. If anyone is given a chance to apply for this bursary, I would definitely recommend it.

Thank you so much Jack Pemberton, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair committee, and 4-H Canada for this amazing experience.

Author: Vanessa Hadwin