It’s corny (and corn-doggy) but I love the Western Fair.
It’s this area’s answer to the CNE, with a long and storied history and sheep and rabbits and pigs, oh my! One of this year’s attractions is teacup pigs. They’re like shrunken pot-bellied pigs and they define cuteness. The Fair has taken a lot of criticism lately for accepting too many bedsheet vendors and not enough agricultural displays so they dedicated one building to a farm play area for kids. The concept was very simple but it’s a big hit. Children are swinging on a rope and landing in a pile of hay, driving mini-tractors on a dirt track and watching baby chicks hatch in an incubator. Take that backyard chicken proponents, who said they needed to raise their own poultry so their kids would know where food came from. 4 or 5 pregnant cows in the maternity ward will calve during the 9-day fair. Children will get to experience the disgusting miracle of birth!
There are few roped-off areas in the main animal building. Ostriches and chickens are penned but Shetland ponies, goats, sheep, rabbits and horses are all out in the open and touchable. There are plenty of hand-washing stations and reminders to wash up!
After visiting the teacup pigs and a litter of regular piglets, alpacas, cows, goats, ponies and bunnies we were drawn to the llamas where the sweetest, well spoken little girl named Olivia gave us a llama tutorial like a walking Wikipedia. Olivia knows more about her friend Mitzi here than you and I know about our spouses!
Olivia’s family raise llamas and they’re clearly her life. What a wonderful kid.
I’ve never been so close to animals that made me as nervous as the Belgian horses. They’re as tall as moose and weigh about 2 tons, according to one trainer. I couldn’t get a photo with enough perspective to show how massive they are. They freaked me out a little and I kept my distance!
The highlight of our night was the Bachman and Turner concert. Randy Bachman and Fred Turner were the core of Bachman-Turner-Overdrive, although Randy allowed his younger brother (also in the band back in the day) to own the band name so Randy can’t use it now. In fact, when Randy and Fred decided to reunite (Fred had gotten out of the music biz) Randy’s brother sued to keep them from using their own names at all! They finally came to some sort of agreement and Bachman and Turner was born. What a terrific show! Fred’s voice has all of the power and growl it did in the 70’s even though he now looks like he’s in HIS 70’s! Randy is a master story-teller who weaves his tales of music and songwriting on his weekly CBC Radio show, Vinyl Tap, which we catch whenever we can. They rocked the grandstand for a solid 90 minutes and then we took the Fair’s Skyride across the twinkling fairgrounds. Except for a brief shower when we first arrived, the rain even held off. That, my friends, is a perfect night at the fair.