Now that the kids are 2 and 4.5 years old, it’s easier and more fun to take them on daytrips and special outings. They have longer attention spans and can really engage in activities. It’s also special stage in our family life in that we are now building traditions and memories with them. One of our favourite activities is exploring nature and getting up close and personal with animals- so for the second time in their lives, we went to the Royal Agricultural Fair in Toronto!
“The Royal” as its known, brings country to the city. Hundreds of exhibitor and farmers from across the province all converge at the Exhibition grounds in Toronto to display their sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, goats, llamas, rabbits, etc. (basically, any animal you can imagine being raised on a farm), compete in shows and interact with the public. There’s a petting zoo, kids area with toy tractors, slides and other activities to engage little ones. The kids really enjoyed the Superdogs presentation (dog agility races and tricks) and got a huge kick out of milking a pretend cow and watching a horse competition (they were thrilled when their favourite horse won the 1st place ribbon).
It was funny to see 2-year old Em’s reaction to the loud baa-ing of the sheep (when there are about 20 of them in nearby pens all loudly clamouring for food it can be quite a scene). She was quite shocked and covered her ears, but when we visited the petting zoo and she saw her sister getting to feed the goats some pellets, she bravely wanted to try too. She loved it! So fun to see them interacting with such beautiful creatures and learning through play.
We definitely had a great time at the Royal and will be back in the future for sure. Thinking about going? Here’s what you need to know:
- Kids 3 and under get in free. Adults are $25 each. You can purchase tickets online in advance, or at the ticket booth. There is a self-serve kiosk as well- which we used with no issues.
- Get there early. They open at 9 and we were there by 9:15. It gets crowded quickly but it was quite busy at noon when we left. We went on a Friday when there are lots of school groups. Never been on a weekend but I imagine its busy then too.
- You may be tempted to leave the stroller at home, but don’t. Yes, there’s lots of other people pushing strollers and wheelchairs but there is a lot of walking involved so it’s great to have a place to put tired kids. Plus, you’ll need a place to put coats, sippy cups, etc. Safety wise, be aware that there are animals being led around in main thoroughfares and its entirely possible a runaway toddler could crash into a startled cow.
- Bring baby wipes! There are tons of hand sanitizer stations and handwash stations throughout the fair (there’s a lot of manure around and high touch surfaces…no one wants e.coli at the end of the day) but be prepared to wipe down little hands often.
- Aaand on that note, don’t wear your best shoes. Rubber boots are great for adults and well-loved runners are good for kids (unless they can walk easily in their boots). You may very well step in something.
- There is a food court with tons of yummy options but to avoid meltdowns and empty wallets, bring snacks if you can (even just juice boxes, veggies and crackers to tide them over during long waits). Try to avoid peak mealtimes so you can be sure you get a seat, but there are other less crowded spots in the venue that have shorter lines and spots to sit (near the horse paddocks and the Marlies hockey rink especially).
- There are some awesome vendors in the main hall. Bring cash to get the best deals! You could easily spend hours shopping there (er, if you didn’t have kids in tow).
Check out www.royalfair.org for more info. Say hi to the goats for us!