The perfect pairing

Girl at food bothTwo of my favourite words in the English language are free and food. Put them together and I’m in heaven.

This year, we went to the 150th Royal Winter Agricultural Fair to watch Grace, who was selected by her 4H club show her goat Cloud. She did well, placing tenth out of 19 competitors.

Watching the kids from her 4H club do well and seeing all the animals and agricultural exhibits was great, but the absolute best part of the Royal was the food and free samples.

There are two mottos the Swinton family lives by. One is never turn down a free meal. The other is you can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.

Clare and I scoped out our plan of attack early in the day after grilling two regular Royal grazers at the coffee line-up. The morning run was a choice between homemade cinnamon buns or apple dumplings smothered with caramel sauce and ice cream. Mid-day, it was a toss up between the perogies, back bacon on a bun, poutine or rosti, scrumptious potato and onion pancakes with cheese and sour cream. Our afternoon repast consisted of fresh caramel corn, ice cream and fudge.

And the free samplings, oh the samplings. Smoked sausage and pepperoni. Cheese from the Ontario Cheese producers association. Granola and yogurt. Creamy chocolate fudge.

It was a free food for all.

This week’s #HappyAct is to see what free food you can score. The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo is on at the Metro Convention Centre this weekend. Some restaurants or eateries will offer freebies on your birthday. For instance, the Marble Slab Creamery offers a free ice cream to anyone on their birthday. Panera Bread, Cinnabon and Booster Juice will also give you a free pastry or juice on your birthday if you sign up for their rewards club.

If all else fails, go to Costco!

Fall Fan Fair

Girls from 4H club
Grace and her 4H friends in the pens before the goat show

Demolition derbys, horse pulls, rides and greasy food. You know it’s fall in Ontario when the fall fair rolls into town.

Yesterday, we spent the day at the Coe Hill Fair, just south of Bancroft. Grace is a member of the Napanee 4H Goat Club and she was showing her goat, Cloud in the goat show.

The Coe Hill Fair was founded in 1882. Before automobiles, a special train came from Trenton to bring exhibitors and fair goers to the fairgrounds. Today, the Coe Hill train station sits on the fairgrounds.

You never know what you will find or who you will meet at a fall fair. As soon as we walked into the fairgrounds, we met friends Reg and Barb Watson. Reg regularly shows his poultry in the fairs north of Kingston. We watched the poultry judge lift each chicken out of its cage, feel its neck and feathers and measure its wingspan. Reg took first prize for his Silver Duck Wing and Rhode Island Red.

Pot bellied pig
Leeloo the pig, follow him on Facebook

Walking towards the goat pens, we came across Leeloo the potbellied pig. Leeloo is a local celebrity with his own Facebook page along with pigmates Sparky and Eli. Sparky is the TELUS pig you see in commercials. Eli became famous when his owner adopted him and started an animal rescue facility outside of Guelph. Dave knew about Leeloo, Sparky and Eli after hearing an interview about them on the CBC.

After filling up on sausages (sorry Leeloo!), roast beef on a bun and french fries, we headed over to the goat show ring. The judge had just flown in the night before from Ohio. This guy knew his goats.

While judging the milkers, at one point he said, “This goat has a good mammory system, well attached with lateral support.” I asked Dave if I had a good mammory system, well attached with lateral support. He didn’t answer me.

We were the only spectators in the stands for most of the show. You should have seen us do the wave.

Husband and wife in stands at the goat show
Dave and I just before we did the wave at the goat show


In the end, Grace took second prize for showmanship and a bunch of fourth place finishes in the confirmation judging, which is more about the size and shape of the goat.

We toured the exhibit barns of quilts, flower arrangements, photography exhibits and all the usual homemade delectables of pies, jams and vegetables. We listened to live music in the grandstand and watched the horse and cow shows. We barely saw Clare who spent the entire day riding the carnival rides.

It was a good day.

Silkie chickens
Beautiful silkies in the poultry barn

This week’s #HappyAct is to take in a fall fair. Here are some upcoming fall fairs in Ontario. You can find a full listing here.

  • Centreville Fair, Sep 2-3
  • Georgetown, Sep 9-10
  • Kingston, Sep 15-18
  • Norwood Fall Fair, Oct 8-10th—I haven’t been to this one, but our friend Keith tells us it’s the best little fair in Ontario
  • And the granddaddy of them all, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Nov 4-13. Grace will be going to the Royal this year, showing her goat Cloud on the Sunday.