The Royal

Here in Toronto, we have a great big agricultural fair each November called The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, though I’ve never heard anyone call it anything but The Royal. I’ve always loved The Royal, and the older I get the more I love this big country thing happening right in the middle of the largest city in Canada, because The Royal happens at the Exhibition grounds, and that’s just about downtown. You can take the streetcar there. My daughter Sam and I went yesterday, met up with a knit-posse, and took lots of pictures for you folks who aren’t fortunate enough to live close by.

Here I give you “Reasons why you should go to The Royal…or be really sorry you can’t”

1. Canadians aren’t stupid, so we aren’t about to hold a “Winter fair” outside. This is the main building for the fair,


and this is The Horse Palace. (I think the fact that there exists in the world such a place as “The Horse Palace” redeems humanity a little.)


2. You will see lots of animals. This is pretty fun. There are cows from the rear,


Cows from the front.


and cows arranged in rows. (We only stopped with the cows because it seemed appropriate, not because we ran out of cows.)


3. If you don’t like Cows, you had a lot of other choices. Do you want chickens?


or Pigs?


Maybe you want piglets?


How about this pig?


(Sam and I were unable to definitely state that this pig had eyes. We couldn’t find them. )

4. They have a totally awesome petting zoo. (Sam told me that she thinks the petting zoo at The Royal was “intense” and “hardcore”, and she’s 13 and pretty hard to please.) It must be good though, because I had a lot of trouble dragging not just Sam, but Rachel H. out of there.



5. Perhaps you like dogs more than other animals? We saw this.


6. I hear you. You don’t like animals. You like vegetables. Well yee haw cupcake because The Royal has that too.


7. You further discriminate and are only interested in Giant vegetables? Ok.



8. I hear the rest of you. You’re saying that you’re a fibre person and you’re only interested in fibre things. Gotcha. Well, that’s why I went to The Royal. There are fibre animals everywhere. (Click to make big)


Even Angora bunnies so furry that they look like they are cubed in their cages.


9. You can see a sheep to shawl contest where the teams start with a raw fleece, and pick, card, spin, ply and weave a shawl in less than 4 hours.


10. You can eat an apple dumpling with caramel and ice cream.


(Sorry, that one wasn’t fibre related, but we had to keep our strength up.)

11. Best of all though, you can go to the fleece auction. The best fleeces I have ever had came from The Royal, and this year there were some very nice ones. I gathered with my peeps:


and we came up with a gang sign for spinners.


We examined all the fleeces and made choices about what we were going to bid on.


Denny and I really liked this one. A beautiful white corriedale.


Then the auction starts.


Denny successfully outbid – well. Everyone to get us the one we liked (at like…$6 a pound. That’s a great deal.) and I got into a bidding war with Lorne from Wellington Fibres over a seriously good looking coloured fleece that Rachel and I are going to split. (We got that one too. It’s a beauty.) Mel got a bunch, Laura got some too. We cleaned up, actually.


The fleece auction is a lot of fun. A. Lot.

12. I’ve saved the best thing for last though. The best thing?



The butter sculptures.

Don’t you wish you could have come? Me too.

PS. Apparently some of you are getting a spyware “dangerous site” warning when you visit here? If you are, could you drop me a line at stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (change the words to the symbols) and let me know what warning software you’re using? My liquidweb tech person (Stephanie, she just learned to knit) is saying it’s a database thing that she can fix.

222 thoughts on “The Royal

  1. I love the Royal – it’s the best!
    Actually, I think the best was the apple dumpling with caramel and ice cream. Just my opinion…

  2. Thanks for visiting the Royal for me, we really wanted to go but life’s too rich right now.
    Have fun with the fleece, looks like work to me.

  3. Catch me, I’m gonna faint! I’m first!
    Glad you had a lovely time at the Royal.
    Whatcha gonna make out of your lovely fleece?

  4. See, I knew Minnesotans were more Canadian than American. We too enjoy a good butter sculpture. They carve ones of the dairy princesses’ heads at the State Fair (second largest state fair in the country, right after Texas).

  5. Just like the State Fair here in Reno, only probably bigger. And I don’t think we have a fleece auction. But all the rest. Wonderful fun!

  6. What on earth did they do to those zucchinis?
    And the piglets are beyond cute.
    I wish we had something like that here in winter. (Michigan). I miss farmy stuff.
    I’m from way out in the countryside (live near Detroit now). When I was in Japan, on my way home from a hike I was walking an ordinary town street and scented the unmistakable odor of cow manure. It brought me a little closer to home. It’s hard to explain how GOOD that manure smelled. I always walked on that street every chance I got while I lived in Kofu.

  7. All that fun without having to leave the city or brave the elements. I will have to remember to bring a couple of you along if I am ever trying to win an auction anywhere for anything!
    Looks like there was everything but yarn – and those apple dumplings sure look like they made up for the missing yarn.
    Dear Gods and Goddesses, may I never have a zucchini that big in my backyard!

  8. I LOVE the piglets, they are the cutest!! even the butter piggies. My one regret is that you can’t spin pig.. well, i guess you could, but yuk. if pigs were soft like angora bunny – well, the world would just about be perfect.

  9. That’s it, I’m vacationing in Toronto next November! Our state fair doesn’t have butter sculptures….or apple dumplings….or fleece auctions either!

  10. Oh, I do wish I could have been there. That fibergoodness looks delicious. I’m not all too fond of the butter sculptures though… What are you supposed to do with one? Does anybody eat that much butter, really?

  11. Your daughter is stunning. The Royal is stunning – world class. The Horse Palace is out of a movie…wow. I would have liked to see the sheep to shawl contest! Thank you for the pix.

  12. Do I wish I could have come? And miss lying in bed wishing my head would just go ahead and explode from the sinus pressure already? Perhaps.
    Stupid boring Chicago suburbs. No fleece for us.

  13. This is a lot like Farm Progress Technology Days in WI (Except they hold it on the HOTTEST days of summer and it’s outside). I like the indoor concept. The bunny cubes are cool too. Sometimes I think I’d like an angora bunny. . . then I come to my senses.

  14. That looks like a lot of fun. I am glad you scored in the fleece department! Not to be outdone, in the Bay Area of California (Brisbane / Daly City), we have The Cow Palace. There is even a freeway exit that just says “Cow Palace”.

  15. Butter pigs, eyeless pigs, where were the wool pigs?
    I think that pumpkin on the right and that last pig were a match. The whole thing sounds like great fun!

  16. Seriously looks like a great fun time to me. I love fairs. Animals, fruits, veggies, fiber. Wow! That covers everything fun in my book..
    WHAT are those tall green things? Beans? squash?
    The piggy face though…I laughed and laughed. I can’t see his eyes either. He looks full of personality though.
    Have you any wool? Yessir Yessir, three bags full…

  17. Thanks for all the pictures – looks like you had something for everyone in The Blog collective.
    Also, I’m adding “Well, yeehaw cupcake” to my personal phrase book. πŸ™‚

  18. I always secretly wanted to be Princess Kay of the Milky Way so I could get my head carved in butter while I sat in a jacket in the big coolers at the Minnesota State Fair… *sigh*
    (HEY! See you at Madrona! I just got into one of your classes! YAY!)

  19. Wow! That’s so cool! I have a friend going to school in Toronto – I need to make sure she is taking advantage of this fiber opportunity! The angora bunnies are my favorite – so squishy! =)

  20. OMG!!! That looks like so much fun!!!! I want to go!!1 We’ve been thinking of a Toronto vacation anyway – so maybe next year. I’m pretty sure there’s a Horse Palace in the states somewhere (maybe Kansas City – somewhere further west than Illinois/Iowa) – at least there used to be.

  21. Butter sculptures are both horribly fascinating and weird. I can’t imagine trying to do anything like it with my stick butter (but I prefer to make cookies).
    Apple dumpling looks good. This is definitely the season (for apple, pumpkin, stuffing, cranberry.. now I’m making myself hungry) for, well, baked everything.

  22. OMG, I thought the NYS fair was the only place to see butter sculptures. Another thing we don’t knowa bout Canada…our neighbors to the North!

  23. We have a similar event in Kansas City called the American Royal. I always wondered why they bothered to call it that, since, duh, we are in America. Now I wonder if it was to distinguish between ours and your Canadian Royal.

  24. I do love me a fair, but I have to say, it is confusing as hell when I’m reading your blog and you write something about me bidding on fleeces or about seeing me at Lettuce Knit and such. ‘Cause you know I love you and I’d absolutely split a fleece with you, no question, but I so don’t live in Toronto.
    I would so love me one of those apple dumplings, though.

  25. *pouting madly*
    It’s a lot like the state fair I missed this year. Sure could use something that fantastic here in MN mid-winter to make us think of summer & see a reason for living.

  26. Those photos brought back memories of my many trips to the Royal when I was younger. I think we would go every year when I was in elementary and high school. It’s a great time. Those dog race trick things are so strange… but compelling. I have never seen beans (? is that what those were? Are they non-GMO?) as large as the ones you saw though. That is crazy!
    Thanks for sharing!

  27. Thanks for the great photos. As an ex-Torontoian, I had forgotten how much I miss the fair. I wish I knew how to spin and weave when I lived there – then you would have had bidding competition!

  28. Has anyone else gotten a “warning: this is a dangerous Web site” notice when they visited the blog today? Ordinarily, this site is “dangerous” in terms of wool accidents, but I am concerned because my anti-spyware program is telling me not to visit this site. Has anyone else encountered this message?

  29. I have tears in my eyes. I lived in Sydney for many years and went to the Royal Agricultural Show every year around Easter time. It was SO like what you shared, Stephanie, that it made me homesick, or should that be “royal sick?” Anyway,there is nothing quite like it even here in Oregon. I did take my grandchildren this year to the Oregon State Fair, but it’s a pale copy of the real Royal thing. If I ever get to your show they’ll probably have to dig me out from behind some hay bales on the last day. Thanks for sharing so I could weep happy memories.

  30. Yeah, we’ve got all that too here in Indiana. Though, the butter sculptures don’t last long. After all, the fair is in August. And it’s just been recently that the powers that be got A/C into the sheep barn, though mostly for the sheep. The sheep to shawl folks are very happy now.

  31. I loved going to the Royal Winter Fair when I was a kid. I don’t live in Toronto anymore (sniff) and I miss it.
    I think the butter sculptures used to be my favourite part (my first thought, as I started to read, was whether they still had them). Although I think I’d prefer the fleece auction now!

  32. Oh such wonderful memories you have made for yourself and Sam and the others too, My sister , my dear sister inlaw and I ALWAYS went to the royal for years and years and years it NEVER disappointed us in any way . We saw a calf get born on one trip and the butter sculpters were magnificent. My sister is now 81 and we were talking about the royal this past Sunday and all the fun we had going. Ashley also had their BIG china sale at the same time and we would go to it too on the same trip and buy christmas gifts. Fun fun fun. Precious memories for sure . I’m So gald you too shall have these lovely memories

  33. Beautiful! I wish we had a fleece sale here. Maybe at the Stampede, huh? I guess I should check that out. That’s the only livestock-esque show I can think of around Calgary…
    Would you mind, if you ever do it, showing or telling (or both) the best way to process sheep fleece? I’ve heard something about skirting, etc, but I’m not sure how one would distinguish the skirt or the legs. Any suggestions?

  34. All right, that does it – I am definitely going to emigrate. Immigrate. Whatever direction you’re viewing from. Not only do you have the world’s densest concentration of really cool knitters/spinners/yarn shops, you get a winter fiber (fibre, see, I know the language already!) festival. That is seriously unfair.

  35. I love agricultural fairs! Have never seen a butter sculpture contest, but have read about them being held in agricultural fairs of centuries past. Another grand tradition, alive and well in Canada!
    I think there are other Horse Palaces, in countries with a long tradition of equestrian arts (and monarchies), but yours sure looks like a lot of fun!
    Great pictures – thanks for the break from my real life, which has not been all the visually glorious today…spent a lot of it in a series of hardware and farm supply stores, searching for a new handle for my splitting maul, which is apparently a distinctive size/shape – who knew?
    Winter. Coming.

  36. In August, my niece moved from California to North Carolina (roughly 2500 miles) to go to college. Last night, she called to tell me that her friends want to introduce her to a Canadian boy who plays on the Lacrosse team. She said, “I don’t know anything about Canadians. What do I talk to him about?” then there was a meaningful pause before she said, “You know Canadians, huh? Aren’t most knitters Canadian.” Yes, she is a little sheltered. Maybe I should call her and suggest she read this post.

  37. Wow–looks like you had a great weekend. Butter, bunnies, food and fleece–what more could a girl want. Lucky dog!

  38. I have been reading past blogues, because I am A) new to your blog site and need to be fully informed and B)need more Yarn Harlot PERIOD… I crave you wittiness and I think you should blog 10 times a day at least, but then again there would be nothing to blog about… so I read past blogs.. I don’t know what I will do when they run out… I will figure it out later..
    now I have two questions that I have come up with..
    1. How many knitting projects are you able to complete in a year? this one has been naging me for awhile.. becuase sometimes things will show up on the blog and then we never hear or see from them again.. they still exist right??
    2. Wedding pictures… i realise it is a wee bit late, but really there weren’t many and you promised more later.. and later did not reveal more.. I like wedding pictures but I understand from the time fram that has elapsed that my curiosity may never be apeased.. i cann live with that though.. just a curiosity thing..
    I have more questions but they have fled my mind now that I have gathered the courage to ask them.. have a great day.. post more blogues..
    oh one more question. I remembered.
    do you take the weekends off from writing? or do you just add something as you become inspired?
    Julia Muldoon

  39. That looks like it was a BLAST! I’ve heard of SPAM carving, but never butter sculptures. My initial thought was that they were white chocolate…
    Congrats on scoring those fleeces–the pics were beautiful. Now you just have to get Joe’s gansey done so you can play with them…lol.

  40. I think your Royal is like our state fair.
    We have all the things you show – however we in Indiana are not so smart and have it in August — usually during the hottest days of summer — animals in barns (some with airconditioning) but you still melt walking around the whole place – but like you we always go. AND my son has done the sheep to shawl contest for the last 2 years — with the only ever boys team.

  41. I miss the Royal so much! My parents come from 2 big farm families and we have a farm – so we usually took a day off of school each year to go (weekends are packed, plus we wanted to go on beef days, as opposed to dairy). One of the things I hate about being in Montreal is that there’s not really anything comparable. Maybe I’ll get home for it next year. Glad you enjoyed it and had a great time! And yes, the butter sculptures are the best part, especially if you’re there early in the fair and get to see the sculptures freezing sculpting in the refrigerated show space!

  42. Fleece auction. Apple Carmel dumpling. Lettuce Knits.
    Maybe I should be looking for a job in Toronto.

  43. This is exactly like our Michigan State Fair, except it looks cleaner and it’s not held outside in the hellish heat of late August.

  44. I am so jealous that if I didn’t have shiny new fleeces on their way to me right now, I might drop my head into my hands and weep. (And nobody wants to see that.) What a wonderful event!

  45. Those are seriously the cleanest cows/pigs/chickens/fiber-y animals I have ever seen. It looks like a ton of fun!!

  46. A wonderful and flexible thing, the English language. Notice that $6 a pound for a fleece, when described as “a great deal” can mean two absolutely opposite things.

  47. That is the cleanest expo of animals that I’ve ever seen at a fair. Very impressive. We’re in Upstate NY and have friends (aka drinking buddies) in Toronto. I think a roadtrip for next year is in the making!

  48. How cool! Never been to the Royal, but yes, I’d love to go now.
    RE: apple dumplings and fibre. Maybe if they were whole wheat….

  49. Here in Pennsylvania, it is called the PA State Farm Show, and is held in the January/February time frame. It’s funny one of the big draws to our show is the butter scuplture as well. Thank you for sharing your pics!!

  50. Butter sculptures in Toronto in November are all well and good. Try Syracuse (New York State Fair) on a stinking hot August afternoon. Now, there’s a challenge!

  51. I love the fleece, the cows, the sheep to shawl, the butter…and am lusting after the apples and caramel. To paraphrase Ariel from Disney fame…”I want to be where harlot’s people are”…it always seems like a fine time was had by all.

  52. The fleece auction was the coolest thing apart from the butter sculptures! (Sorry, a goddess has to have priorities.)

  53. Sigh. Toronto looks so great. Since they knocked down the old Coliseum and built a temple to the Conspicuous Consumption Gods in NYC I can’t see such an event ever going there. Yes, I do wish I could have come. Thanks for the tour.

  54. Dude! Awesome! Sure beats my Sunday. I stood in a parking lot and drank beer at a local brewery. Granted, there was beer…but still…I’m jealous!

  55. Oh my. I heard tales of the giant vegetables this morning from a friend in Toronto. Please tell me you have more photos. Fiber: excellent, butter piglets: I’m about to melt right along with them, zucchini the size of a small tree: there can not be too many of those in this universe. I’m utterly fascinated. I think it comes from reading James and the Giant Peach a few too many times as a child.
    Out of curiosity, were there any butter busts. (No not *that* kind of bust!) I lived in Minnesota for 5 years, and still regret never making it to the MN State Fair to see the dairy princess butter busts.

  56. Ah, finally a fair this rural gal can relate to!Chickens are my favorite-and I would have some but it seems the coyotes around here like them even better than I do.
    If I am ever left to my own devices I will emigrate to Canada just to live in Toronto with all the wonderful knitters.

  57. I love the picture of Rachel H with the goat. Looks like they’re sharing secrets.
    The butter sculptures are amazing and, scarily enough, I sort of have a yen to give it a try at the dinner table.

  58. You just have way too much fun Steph! I can’t imagine keeping up with you and bow to those that do! This post was awesome. GREAT photos and humor!I have to confess that I’m mostly a lurker so even when you don’t blog I just go thru your archives! You always make me smile! Thanks Bunches!

  59. Dangerous site? Hell, yes, this is a dangerous site! Beverages spewed on keyboards, money spent to satisfy yarn lust, threatened institutionalization by colleagues who don’t understand why you’re guffawing at work . . . the list goes on.
    The Toronto tourist authority needs to hire you–I can’t tell you how many times I read a blog entry and think “I gotta go to Toronto.”

  60. There are butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair, too. But I must confess that I like yours better. Ours are just busts of other women’s heads. Boring.
    The Royal looks like a ton of fun. I’m so impressed that there is a fleece auction. More incentive to visit Toronto.

  61. You are so lucky to have a group of knitting buddies to share the fun. And, to have a daughter who enjoys hangin’ with the adults. She rocks!

  62. Um, are those giant green beans? those look a little obscene. Looks like as much fun as the Alaska state fair, but with better livestock – and smaller cabbage – I think Alaska has the giant cabbage category sewn up, but definitely not the green bean category! The fleeces look gorgeous, congrats to you and Denny!

  63. Cubed bunny! Too funny! Oh god, I rhymed.
    What will you make with the fleeces? Is that the correct plural of fleece?

  64. That looks fantastic. It could be one of our end of summer county fairs fifty times over! I am so wishing I could have been there… And those fleeces look oh-so-tempting!

  65. This reminds me so much of the Iowa State Fair – complete with butter sculptures. Ours always has a full-sized butter cow, and then at least one other piece that fits something going on at the time. This last summer, it was a butter sculpture of Harry Potter. The apple dumplings look wonderful. Wonder if they could find a way to serve them on a stick (in the traditional state fair standard of ‘all food on a stick’).

  66. Dude! You’re all making the llama hand! My fiance and I have llama hand conversations and/or battles periodically. (Uh, maybe I shouldn’t be admitting that…) But also, having a llama hand say “llama” to a very drunk person is GUARANTEED to make them laugh hysterically for a very long time.

  67. That fair looked like so much fun!! I really like the butter sculptures. I am kind of jealous I could not go to it πŸ™

  68. More evidence that Canadians are smart: They have their state ag fairs in the winter.
    But seriously Harlot, you should get yourself booked sometime for a reading at the Indiana State Fair. They have butter, they have giant veggies, and every year they have a competition for the best new fried thing.(Last year: A fried Snickers bar and two fried Reese’s Pieces on the side.)At least, if my brother and sister-in-law are to be believed. . .

  69. It might ammuse you to know that waaay down here in Marlyand at the Timonium Fairgrounds, the largest of the buildings is officially named the Cow Palace. I was there just this weekend for the Irish festival. Good times.

  70. Piglet ‘tocks. Rock;)
    But- um woman- don’t you have a gansey fleece you’re STILL working on????
    Steps back rom the computer- and knits another unoriginal hat- now REALLY unoriginal as it’s #7 at my house alone.
    But- the Malabrigo chunky. It’s so nice to knit the cabley treats;)

  71. Yummy apple, caramel, ice cream.
    And wonderful butter sculptures.
    And to be in a building called “The Horse Palace”. Love me some horses.
    Yeah, sheep aren’t bad either.

  72. Oh my! I’m from Iowa (home of the Iowa State Fair Butter Cow) and have never seen another fair that does the butter sculptures.

  73. Couldn’t you make it a little easier for us Yanks who want to emigrate? Like, maybe, a special dispensation for knitters? Cuz I totally wanna live there now.

  74. In all my 16 years of living in Toronto I never went to the Royal. I was never a knitter before so now I have to move back just so I can go to this!
    Incidentally, doesn’t Quebec have their Winter Carnival outside? I guess theirs involves a lot of physical activity so the patrons can stay warm even though they’re in the snow! πŸ™‚

  75. P.S. Just had to have another look see at the royal and noticed how very happy Samantha was petting the pigs and sheep. Could be a veterinarian in the making per chance ? Thanks again for this posting

  76. I was there too! I did manage to get a fleece, the last coloured fleece that was auctioned, a brown/black Corriedale cross, for which I paid $11 a pound for a 4 lb fleece. This is my very first fleece! I didn’t bid on any of the larger fleeces that went for less, as I am not sure how I will take to the raw fleece thing, having only spun prepped stuff so far. I did get in a bidding war for the Shetland fleece, dropped out at $30
    a pound (it was just under 2 lbs, I think it went for $31). I don’t think I was in a bidding war with Steph on any! Sheep to Shawl was great! I should have said hello, but you were with a large group, and I was the shy lady in a pale blue barn coat. LOL

  77. It all looks like great fun, but, um, weren’t there any HORSES in the Horse Palace? Because that just seems like an unfortunate oversight…. (grin) Love the dog Agility action shot, though!

  78. Sam was loving on an Angora Goat kid- she was petting kid mohair! baby angoras are my fav- just had to throw that in. Looked like a lot of fun.

  79. Dang, that apple dumpling looks so good I might have knocked you down and run off with it.
    And I’m surprisingly fast when it comes to dumplings.

  80. That looks like so much fun! Those dumplings remind me of the Strawberry Festival we used to go to when we lived in FL. There was one tent run by some Catholic church, it was $2 and it was “Make Your Own Shortcake”. Oh my gosh, did we ever get our $2 worth. There was a choice of “cake”, I always got this biscuit/scone thing, then a bucket of strawberries with a huge ladle, 2 or 3 scoops of that, then a bowl big enough to hold 2 newborn babies full of whipped cream. YUMMO! But, the Strawberry Festival never had butter sculptures.
    Please stop showing fleece and spinning things. I’m really trying to get a handle on my yarn stash. I don’t need all this temptation.
    I should clarify, the bowl was full of whipped cream, not the babies.

  81. 1) I love those doors. Art Deco for the win. *nods*
    2) That’s one huge pig. I also can’t find the eyes.
    3) Those bunnies…fluffy!!!
    4) My stomach growled when I saw those apples! *mmm*
    5) Those sculptures are amazing.
    So you had a blast there I take it? πŸ˜€

  82. You have to help a city girl out here.
    What in the world kind of vegetable is the tall green pole things that could double for street lights?

  83. ZURICH!!!!!!
    That’s the name of the llama in your first picture. He’s from Sonnyside farms, which is who I show llamas with. I was supposed to help out at the booth this weekend… I can’t believe I skipped out on it!

  84. Good, I see another San Franciscan mentioned our (just outside the city limits) Cow Palace– but then I read of two MORE Cow Palaces! Must determine which is the first and original! I haven’t myself been to any farm-oriented event in the Cow Palace, but I have been to the Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show (“largest benched show in the west! More than 2000 dogs!”) MANY times. Sigh. . the late-winter event of my childhood.

  85. Wow! It sounds like great fun. And I agree that any place with a Horse Palace is pretty great. In the San Francisco area we have the Cow Palace, which sounds nice in concept but in reality they’re more likely to have monster truck and gun shows than cows. But I think they did have cows there once. Were the caramel apples as good as they looked?????

  86. OMG — a butter bunnie!
    I’m too delicate a flower to live in Toronto (left in my early 20s) but for a butter bunnie I might just come back … (oh, and the fleece, too)

  87. oh those piglets are adorable! And the butter sculptures are magnificent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything sculpted from butter. very cool.

  88. I’m glad to see lots of mentions of our Cow Palace here in San Francisco (which looks nothing like your Horse Palace). Ours got its name because it is the home of the Grand National Rodeo & Horse show so we do get our share of livestock here although the building is not quite as regal looking as yours.

  89. At the California State Fair I’ve seen both butter and cheese sculptures. And the Stanislaus County Fair has had cheese sculptures. The good side of that is that they give away the pieces they carve off.

  90. Your work here is done: I am officially jealous.
    Um, when you say “raw fleece,” you don’t actually mean raw as in straight off the unwashed sheep, do you? A high-school classmate of mine competed in the Rhinebeck fleece-to-shawl a few years back (it was she who put Rhinebeck on my radar lo these six years ago, and I never wrote to thank her), and they’re allowed to use washed and dyed fleece, but it can’t be carded, combed or otherwise improved before the competition starts.

  91. You want to watch out for those “cows from the back end”. Years and years ago, I went with a whole gang of my friends to the Sydney Royal Easter Show (also colloquially known as “The Royal”), and my friend Liam was targeted by the back end of a Poll Hereford bull. We had to take him out the back of the pavillion and hose him down, and dogs followed him about for the rest of the day! Poor guy (snigger), it wasn’t funny at all (snort).
    Looks like a fabulous time was had by all.

  92. San Francisco, CA, has The Cow Palace. It’s the home of the Grand National Rodeo and they also have stock shows, rock concerts, AKC dog shows, and other convention events. Back in the ’50s my family used to go to pro basketball games there, too.

  93. Oooh, that looks like SO much fun! And yahoo on the fleeces. My friend and I decided to hit the parking lot at Oregon Flock and Fiber first next year. By the time we got there, all the good fleeces were gone.
    Love the pig picture the best. I’m sure there were eyes in there…somewhere.

  94. Man, another reason to live in Toronto! Knitting and fiber seem to live in that city. I’d move there except that my husband has banned us from moving to certain cities based solely on their hockey teams. Yeah, he’s not a Leafs fan.

  95. Looks like fun; I’m jealous; indoor County Fair in big cold city. BUT WHAT’s THAT YARN FROM YESTERDAY’s POST?????????

  96. Thank you for the wonderful pictures and tour. I want to go in person next year! Canada seems so civilized.

  97. “yee haw cupcake”…I will be saying that for a long time. It sounds dopey but is full of charm.

  98. Oh my gosh! Those piglets are so adorable!
    The Royal sounds like our State fair, minus the ‘spin and puke’ rides. You Canadians have the good sense to have it in a cool month, and indoors, instead of baking under the mid-August sun. Way smarter.

  99. We have “Royal’s” in Australia as well, and apparently the agricultural bits are exactly the same (except for the butter carving. I FEEL LEFT OUT.) I missed out on a fleece this year (good thing, partner would have killed me if I’d brought home yet another huge bulky fiber-related thing we have no room to store), but I did get spat on by an Alpaca. It was awesome.

  100. Butter sculptures. That’s a new one on me. My cholesterol was climbing just looking at them. It does seem like an awful lot of work for something that will spoil, though. Yikes.
    The fleece auction sounds like fun. I think I’d be dangerous there. I get a little scary on ebay. I don’t like to lose. πŸ˜‰

  101. Molly – re: yesterday’s yarn: I don’t think the harlot is going to tell us. She’s full of yummy apple dessert, has bags of nice fleece and had lots of fun at the Royal (which most of us did not…sniffle) I agree with whomever said it was “Jailhouse Rock” from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Whatever it is will cause a blog induced run on it’s beautiful self…it could be a problem (but the sock club is up again for next year!)

  102. That sounds a lot like the Minnesota State Fair! You should come if you’re ever in the Twin Cities the last week of August. It sounds like it’s a lot like the Royal except a bit warmer and with food that isn’t as healthy. (anything you can dream of deep fried and/or on a stick. mmmm.)

  103. Ok I’m sure someone has told you this already but the Iowa State Fair also features butter sculpture (although butter in the Winter in Canada really does make more sense than butter in Iowa in August). We always have the butter cow and last year (I think) we also had a butter Harry Potter.
    I’m fairly certain there is also much with fleece in that area however, I’m not allowed to go there. πŸ˜‰ So I guess now I just have to go to Toronto.

  104. Your Royal reminds me of “The Big E” (which is slang for the Eastern States Exposition that is held in Springfield, MA every year. All the New England States have their own building on the Avenue of states and it’s just an amazing experience. There is a guy in one of those chilled coolers who carves a sculpture at the fair, while you watch. Nuts!

  105. How is it that with all the advances of modern man, we still think it’s okay to treat animals like objects? “Cubed Bunny” was not cute or funny, but disturbingly inhumane! That animal cannot move! Even if they were only in that jail cell for a short time, (which I doubt)it only serves to perpetuate the antiquated thinking that animals don’t need to be comfortable. Think about this…if that bunny could make noise, and was sitting there whining, how would you feel? Poor thing needs to stretch and hop about like an animal, not a show piece.
    Oh, Stephanie, not a personal attack, I still love you. Just my thoughts. πŸ˜‰

  106. Well, I don’t know if anyone else commented on this, but Minnesota has a State Fair that features a butter sculpture as well. It’s a bust sculpture of Princess Kay of the Milky Way–some kind of Dairy Homecoming princess.
    I guess that being so close to Canada we’re likely to have some similar ideas. When I tell my international friends where Minnesota is located, I always say, “In the U.S.–just south of Canada.” It makes me feel like an honorary Canadian. If I close my eyes and squint it’s almost as good as the real thing.

  107. Oh dude, I love butter sculptures.
    Ooh, that reminds me! At Thanksgiving around here (you know we hippie Californians like to do that in late November), there are BUTTER TURKEYS. I’ve got to remember to go out and get one.
    Sadly, it’s not like 21 pounds or anything. That would REALLY be awesome.

  108. I’m so sad that I missed the Royal this year. I grew up in Toronto and it was an integral part of my childhood. We bought my brother’s bunny at the Royal one year. I just love it there- pure Canadian bliss.

  109. I went to the Royal (my first time!) Saturday. I don’t even spin and I wanted to run off with the prize winning fleece on display.
    Also, and I kid you not, there was one sheep darn near jumped out of his/her pen so I would pet him/her. It must have known what a wool junkie I am.

  110. I went to the Royal every year with my Grandma. She would take me to see the horse jumping for my birthday. I still have the programs. I haven’t lived in Toronto in over 20 years. I think I’ll need to make a trip to the Royal next year.

  111. I think it was in Trois-Rivieres that I saw a “Palais bovin” (“Bovine Palace”) at the fairgrounds.
    But I’ve never seen a Horse Palace before, and certainly not one with such great architectural details.
    Loved the cubic bunny – I wonder how long his fur is? ‘Cause I could quite imagine that the actual bunny itself might be comparatively small.

  112. I really love these fairs – we have a large, yearly farm show in PA! My LYS store owner’s team won the Sheep to Shawl contest last year! WOOT! Our show is held inside as well.

  113. i loved it all, but my favorite? butter sculptures. i did butter sculptures in school. it’s a fun medium. and the best part? you can baste your buns with it w hen you’re done!

  114. Whooeee, wonderful fair pix! Brought back great memories. (And rather frazzled memories of being a show secretary wrangling 500+/- 4-H horse show entrants…especially the year they tore the old barns down…) I think ours have fleece auctions too, but I was in 4-H with a horse project, so never had much time to pay attention when I was showing. πŸ˜‰ Great to see all the animals, and the fleeces. But must agree with Deb up there; a Horse Palace and no horse pix? That just ain’t right! [g] (Seriously, 149 of The Blog [or so] thanks you for thinking of us with all those lovely pix, and was just teasing.)
    And hmm. The spinner’s gang sign looks like a really loose interpretation of one sign against the Evil Eye. [vbg]

  115. There’s really a bunny in there? It’s square. Bunnies aren’t square. I told my hubby that I wanted one of those Angora bunnies. Now, I’m SURE of it. Square bunnies, who knew?
    San Francisco has a Cow Palace. I laugh everytime my dad says he’s heading out to the Cow Palace. It’s just too funny.

  116. Boy, I miss the county fair of my youth. Ours was in July in northern California so we’d wait until it cooled down a bit in the evening to go. Everything was hot and dusty and garishly lit. We had the giant zucchini, 4-H hogs bigger than their young handlers, rows of jelly in Ball jars, rabbits too big for their cages, chickens too odd to be real, carnival hawkers, and videos on how to castrate a pig.
    Seattle does have a Spam carving contest for Fat Tuesday.

  117. There seems to be something wrong about piglets carved out of butter….something unsettling in that.
    I love that curly white goat. So cute.
    The fleece looks disgustingly filthy to me – glad you are all able to see the potential in it.

  118. Thank you for clarifying “Sheep to Shawl”! Never having witnessed this phenomenon, I thought it was shearing, spinning and KNITTING. Having just finished a lace wedding shawl for a friend, which took about 60 hours or so (and I’m not the slowest knitter), I couldn’t imagine knitting a shawl in a day unless you had a group of like 16 knitters all knitting in a circle in that mind-bending spiral kind of way.
    I feel better.
    At the Minnesota State Fair, the horse building is called the Hippodrome, which sounds oh so classical. Like the Royal, we also have butter sculptures, as has been mentioned by others, and also Crop Art. Yes, art made with various grains etc. Not to be missed.

  119. Oh. My. God. I’ve gotta get a freakin’ passport and get my arse up there for the Royal!!!

  120. You should come to the Iowa State Fair and see the lifesize butter cow. There was also a butter Harry Potter and accessories this year. πŸ˜€

  121. The Ohio state fair has butter sculptures every year, and they’re just about my favorite thing about the fair.
    There is not, however, a fleece auction (or at any rate if there is, it has been kept secret from me) which is, now that I think about it, a grave omission on the part of the fair’s organizers.

  122. You should see the National Western Stock Show in Denver in January, if you want to see cows! The weather is always cold (usually the coldest week in the winter)so cold that it is actually called Stock Show weather!! We do have all kinds of stock from bunnies to cows. And the rodeo is always fun. Now that I am a more serious knitter, I may pay more attention to the sheep events like shearing contests.
    You have us beat in the vegetable and butter area, I have to admit. Thanks for the pix.

  123. they also have butter sculptures at the ohio state fair in columbus. and a tim horton’s. just saying.
    (just as i get ready to click “post,” i see daisy has mentioned the same butter sculpture sightings. they are well-known. =] (and a tim horton’s.)

  124. The butter sculptures made me snarf my hot tea. πŸ™‚ Those animal exhibits are by far the tidiest I’ve ever seen! (I’m with Sam and Rachel H… The goaties rock.)

  125. Ah, we will only be a month late for The Royal. Dangit!
    Do your dairy farmers play dirty too? Apparently some at our Royal Show were using hormones to get their cows udders nice and big for show, and others were nobbling their competitors’ cows and effectively shrinking their udders….

  126. Steph,
    Please show us the process with the wool from the start to finish…. I don’t understand how it goes from sheered wool to yarn with color.

  127. That’s it, I for real AM moving to Toronto. After reading your post I had to go grab a handful of Ouessant fleece in the grease, and hold it up to my nose and breathe deeply of the sheep-ness while I read your post a second time. Bunny cubes! Butter sculptures! Darling piglet butts! Lambs! Goats! I nearly wept. Thanks so much for the virtual tour.
    And the spinner gang signs rule.

  128. Caroline: I don’t disagree, but it looks like that bunny is probably tee-tiny with a LOT of fuzz, and he doesn’t LIVE in that cage….and Sarah, as a former Minnesotan (and present Wisconsinite) we ARE in way-southern Canada. I’ve had customers on the phone ask if I’m IN Canada “because you have a Canadian accent”. Yeah, hey, I guess that’s right, dontcha know. Also- here in Wisconsin we have butter statuary at the Fair too – I suspect it’s an Upper Midwest thing, which is a natural considering the best butters come from this part of the world. And last – at our Wisconsin State Fair the “specialite de la maison” is cream puffs. Cream puffs that FILL a full-sized paper plate filled WAAAAY full with very lightly sweetened whipped cream in. Let’s see…a mere 8 months to the next Fair {sigh}

  129. Whoops, forgot to add something — when you come to Baton Rouge I will take you to the Cow Palace at LSU. Similar building but the Horse Palace’s doors win for beauty by a long shot.

  130. See this is just another reason I wanna got to Canada! I showed my hubby and he agrees that we have to add this to the list (that is pretty long now actually) of things to do/see when we finally get over there.
    Snow for Christmas would be awesome (Western Australia Christmas’ are usually in the 40 degrees celsius).

  131. I agree about the cleanest cows. I live in Davis, California and there are cows and they definitely do NOT look that good.
    The apple pie looks delicious and I want some instead of taking my midterm. X_X

  132. Hey! Here in town, we have a Cow Palace at the Fairgrounds. When people call from the payphone, it shows up as such- which causes a lot of confusion. (Exactly what is a cow palace, and why are they calling?)

  133. Dude, look at you, totally comfortabl using words like “liquidweb”!
    ps: my guys and I love a good fair – wish we could have gone too!

  134. Loved learning about the Royal. Please explain to me why I get jealous hearing about a fiber/farm event that I haven’t attended. Do I go to other fiber/farm events? (YES) Do I have a stockpile of assorted fiber to spin? (YES, enough to work on for at least the next 6 years.) Will I have opportunities to go to other events? (Yes, unless I cease to exist tomorrow)Do I belong to a local fiber community of great people? (Yes). Does any of this make sense? (No, but I still get jealous) Glad you had a great day!

  135. You had me worried for a minute! I thought you were going to forget the butter sculptures. You brought back great memories for me. Thanks!

  136. Loved it! Still, I can’t help but notice because I’ve been STALKING your blog that you never told us what the lovely wool was on “Smack My Server” Day. If you lost the ball band, fess up….
    Ball bands bother me. I’m never sure what to do with them. I hate having them on the yarn. I can’t bring myself to throw them away either. Finally, I developed a system. I take a small envelope and punch two holes in the top. I tie a sample of the yarn through the holes. I stuff the ball band inside the envelope and toss the lot in a shoe box.
    Yes, I know. OCD is a disease. But, I will not be destracted by fleece or giant zuchinni! What is that wool?

  137. Inga, that is a GREAT idea you’ve come up with for saving ball bands with the yarn! I’m going to do that.

  138. Woah! Those are some serious giant vegetables! Be careful…6 foot zucchini can get you an x-rating from Google, I think! I’d love the Royal (which I get the feeling is like our Texas State Fair) up to and including the butter sculptures! We had a butter “Elvis” last year…but he kept trying to melt. Now I think those apple dumplings with ice cream look a bit healthier than our typical Fair Food….fried EVERYTHING. Dude, I’m serious! Fried bananas, fried corn dogs, fried PB&J sandwiches and even…are you ready for this?…FRIED COKE! Yep. We’re serious about our cholesterol here! Can’t wait to see what you do with the lovely fleeces (not to rhyme with feces!) πŸ™‚ Knit On!

  139. This looks just like the NY State Fair, only yours is in November and ours is in August. I actually participated in the Sheep to Shawl contest there. Let me tell you, it’s intense!

  140. OK, OK, OK. My oldest childhood friend lives in Toronto. My only cousin about my age lives in Toronto (and he has a child I’ve never met). And now The Royal?? And Denny could be my personal bidder (I could bribe her) as she seems to have a real knack… Lookit me, checking out flights in time for next year (what are the dates?)

  141. The Iowa State Fair is a great event, as has been mentioned. But they left out the great advantage of butter sculpture in August–it’s kept in a refrigerated area, and it is cool in all senses to walk by. Can’t believe I lived in Toronto 2 years (68-70) and didn’t know of the Royal. Didn’t knit then, either, so probably I wasn’t really living.

  142. I took my boys to The Royal as well. We toured “wool on the hoof”, petted “sox in the raw” at the petting zoo, and totally overwhelmed my 2 year old by showing him how big horses and cows really were. Up until that point his view of them were the little plastic toys that come in the toddler barn sets.
    He really liked the little piggies with the sow.

  143. How delightful! Thank you for the photo tour and narrative, it’s the next best thing to being there. Hide your fleece from the tree rats.

  144. I have been telling my husband for years that we should move to Ontario. This seals the deal, for me; I’m stepping up the campaign! Also, I’m going to work the phrase “yee haw cupcake” into as many conversations as possible from now on. πŸ™‚
    Those tremendous huge green veg…are those zucchini? Holy cats.

  145. Wow, and I thought the Wisconsin State Fair was fun. Looks like Toronto takes the cake! Allthough, the Wisconsin state fair has cream puffs–with fresh, full fat whipped cream, with people waiting in long, long lines to purchase boxes full for immediate consumption, with people writh cream on their noses and chins…..Glad you scoed with the fleeces…

  146. OMG, love the butter piggies.
    We have a “Pennsylvania Farm Show” down here which is very similar (even down to the butter sculptures which are kept a big secret until opening day). Unfortunately, the powers that be ALWAYS schedule it in mid-January when the weather tends to be … “iffy” is not strong enough. We actually have, and use, the term “farm show weather”. If it has not snowed yet, we are guaranteed a blizzard that week. If we have snow, we will have a four inch ice “event”. And Sheep-to-Shawl is always on Tuesday late afternoon into evening… something I’d love to see, but not willing to endanger my life for the two hour drive to and from Harrisburg… on the PA Turnpike… in either three feet of snow or two inches of ice… at night… when deer like to cavort in the middle of the road. (You get my drift – ha ha – right?)

  147. Wow, does that look like a party. Complete with Denny, what looks like a young menace who should be partying with mine (and sharing bionicles), and butter and Rachel H getting snuggly with a goat…. wow. Just, wow.

  148. A fun coverage of that winter fair Stephanie! How many times have you gone to the Royal’s Fleece auction? Is it very different each year?
    What about sheep to shawl competitions? What’s been your experience as a team member? A few of us were thinking about it. It’s hard to sort out how to get a loom. I am in the midst of moving. Blog reading makes such a nice break. Can you reply in the comments or on your main blog entry? We are going to be without the net for a few weeks as we move across the country and get settled in.

  149. Reminds me of the county fair, except that Hoosiers (people from Indiana) are not as smart as Canadians. We have fair (it is never “the fair,” just “fair”) at the end of July in the heat, and outside. Cotton candy, single bolt construction thrill rides, and 90 degree heat make for some good times!

  150. Wow! Like the Indiana State Fair but not in icky-hot weather! The Sheep Barn has a fiberista’s dream gift shop. I do, however, really want one of those apple dumplings! Sounds like a great day at the Royal to me.

  151. I love the spinner gang sign because it is the same one we use for our sports teams, the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns! Hook ’em Horns!

  152. I love the butter sculptures too. They had them at our state fair in Kansas. Sounds like you all cleaned up at the Fleece Auction and I am so hungry for apple dumplings and ice cream now. I have to know what were those really tall green veggies????

  153. Hi Abby. Yes I didn’t think Cyrus was coming with me, but we went to his dance class(it’s near the fair grounds).
    And he started whimpering on how left out he felt.
    That and he knows I get fudge ever year. This year I got fudge,ice cream,honey sticks, had to keep him busy while I bid on A fleece.
    I went to get ONE fleece. Just ONE. came home with
    five. shoot me now. they stink. love denny.x0xx

  154. The Group Sign? My kids having been using that when they make believe Buster, the stuffed toy lamb (made of sheepskin, of course) talks. They’ve gotten quite good with expressions by adjusting their fingers and using thumbs as lower jaws. Now it’s kind of like their alter-ego.
    Fiber minds think alike!

  155. o my God, I totally get the butter sculpters. We used to live in Ohio, and would go to the state fair to see the butter cow. very cool.

  156. Those bunny cubes were hilarious – but you need a pack of marshmallows to complete the experience. One fluffy bunny … two fluffy bunnies … πŸ˜‰
    Made me completely homesick for my home ‘Royal Show’ in Melbourne – the animals part, not the endless side alleys full of overpriced showbags.

  157. I have a friend whose sister-in-law was a Butter Princess at the MN State Fair many years ago. They carve butter heads of the Butter Princesses during the Fair (the sculptor and the model are both on display in a large refrigerator while sculpting is in process)). This particular young woman used her butter head at her wedding reception.

  158. oh how much fun! I love those kinds of fairs – can’t find any around here tho
    Now we need more pics of the fibre you won

  159. I respectfully beg to differβ€”food is ALWAYS fiber-related. I’ve not yet met anyone who works with yarn that wasn’t a foodie! πŸ˜‰

  160. So not fair. I’ve already come to the conclusion that Canada rocks, but the butter piglets seal the deal.
    Congrats on the fleece aquisition. Well done! Something about an auction that makes a purchase seem twice as precious. You’ve done battle for it, after all. (Never been to a fleece auction though. That’s gotta be one rollicking fun scene).
    Beautiful mittens, beautiful socks…what can I say, I am really enjoying the parade!

  161. The butter sculptures totally crack me up!!! I love it–we went to the State Fair this year for a similar time, but we don’t have anything as cool as a horse palace or a fleece auction, trust me!

  162. Aahhh! When did you go? I keep seeing you at assorted events. I’m kind of surprised that I didn’t see you there, but then again I didn’t know about the fleece auction! Oh well.
    The Apple Dumplings are addictive! I absolutely have to have one every year!!

  163. We’ve had a butter cow at the Iowa State Fair for 38 years at least. So not a new thing to this farm state human. The piglets are cute though. Another thing about the Iowa fair is that it’s held in August so the cow is refrigerated but the people walking through are not. We also have tall corn contests and those get over 10′ tall. We also have sheep to shawl competitions and lots of 4-H crafts, animals etc etc. Match my fair against your Royal anyday. Happy Knitting!

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