On paper, it’s a simple question: ‘what were your top three takeaways from The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair?’

But, it’s not quite as simple as you’d think. There are so many things to learn, and so many potential takeaways after attending and experiencing The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) 2023 in Toronto, ON as the recipient of the Jack Pemberton Youth Development Bursary.

After taking some time to thoroughly reflect on everything that I saw and learned, I ultimately decided that my top three takeaways went deeper than meeting the 2023 stunning mascot, ‘Kay the Polled Dorset Ewe,’ or crossing under the gates to the fairgrounds for the first time. Instead, my takeaways were:

  1. You must be extremely determined in order to be an athlete at the national championship level.
  2. It’s important to see new things and travel to new places.
  3. You should do what you love.

Takeaway 1: You must be extremely determined to be an athlete at the national championship level.

I learned this lesson during the two nights that I watched the Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge, a truly captivating competition to watch. Both nights, American Eventer and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Philip Dutton, took the first-place standing with his horse, Quasi Cool. Although he wasn’t who I was cheering for, I was still very excited that he won after hearing him talk about his love and dedication to the sport.

I found it exhilarating to watch the performers complete the course. It was clear that each rider had put in the hours to prepare their horses for the competition, and that’s why they all did very well. I learned that it is extraordinarily important and necessary to put in the hours if you hope to be a competitive athlete.

Takeaway 2: It’s important to see new things and travel to new places.

Our world is so big and so fascinating. There’s so much to experience and our planet demands to be explored! There’s so much to absorb when traveling, and you never really notice how much you learn until you take time to pause and really think about it. Everywhere you go will be different, and there are endless possibilities of places to go and things to see. The legacy of the late Jack Pemberton, and 4-H Canada, granted me this remarkable opportunity to attend and experience the largest indoor agricultural fair in the world, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Takeaway 3: You should do what you love.

I have heard people talk about finding a job that they love for as long as I can remember, but I always wondered if that was a possibility for everyone. I have since realized that it is possible.

I watched Guy McLean work with his four horses, and listened to him talk about his job as a horse trainer, and it was an amazing show to watch. He worked so well with his horses, and they all looked so happy to be doing their jobs (not to mention, he was super funny). Guy explained that through his job, he has accomplished the goal of making his loved ones proud of him, while also making himself happy. Following that genuinely admirable presentation, I have drawn a conclusion that it is unbelievably important to do what you love.

These three key takeaways are extremely valuable lessons to learn, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn them in such a fun and exhilarating environment, all while taking in the competitions, shows, and displays that make up the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

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