Just when I thought that the winter festivals were over, my friends introduced me to the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon, Manitoba. For as long as I’ve lived in Manitoba, this was the first time I’ve heard of it and after some insightful hints and highlights by other friends, I decided to take the trip out to Brandon.
The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair has been around for 106 years and in 1970, during a visit by Queen Elizabeth II granted the Manitoba Winter Fair with a “Royal” designation. There are only two other fairs in the world with that distinction. As well, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair is the starting point for many of the equine competitions and competitors and exhibitors travel from far and wide to participate in this internationally renowned event.
The Keystone Centre is home for the week long fair and with so many activities, it’s pretty easy to see why this event is well attended by families. The Ag-Awareness area is where city folk like myself can learn about agriculture and even get my hands dirty in sheep shearing demonstrations or even milking cows. In the stables, getting up close and personal to the huge Clydesdales was a breath taking. I’ve seen Clydesdales on TV during Budweiser commercials during the Super Bowl. I didn’t realize how large these horses are until I visited the stables and saw them rumbling through the Keystone Centre during the four-horse hitch championships. These horses are huge and majestic.
The biggest draw in the nightly entertainment for me was the pig scramble where 20 kids/youth are let loose on 10 wriggly little pigs in the area. The goal is for the kids to catch a little pig and slide a band around the little pig’s neck. It’s largely amusing watching young teenage kids run after a screaming and waddling pig. I only wish they had a similar event for the big kid in all of us.
Judging from the enthusiasm from the crowd, the horse jumping competition was pretty riveting. All I know about horse jumping is that if they jump the gates without knocking down poles, that’s good. Jumping and knocking down poles, is bad. The rider and horse that jumped the course in the best time without knocking down gates, won.
While I did catch the President’s Choice Superdogs show, I missed out on the cattle auction. Maybe I’ll save that experience for next year’s Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. Lots of fun and excitement for your entire family.
Photos Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal