TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2017 /CNW/ - It's a wooly wonderland at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as the sheep barns fill up with animals and their handlers. As well, there are sheep shearing demonstrations every day at the education ring. The versatility of the fibre is on display in a booth hosted by The Harris Tweed Authority.
Rebecca Parker does the shearing demonstrations and she also brings a lamb to the Harris Tweed booth so children and adults can see the raw wool first-hand. They can then compare it to the wool items on display from blazers to blankets. The Bethany, ON, sheep farmer believes it is important for people to see the animals and make the connection to what they are wearing.
"Our main aim is to produce meat," Parker says of her 400 ewe operation. "We are trying to improve our wool quality but the prices we get remain low." She used to enter the sheep classes at The Royal, but now she focuses on education. "The Royal is important for education because most people don't know that sheep provide three products."
Back in the Harris Tweed booth, weavers and spinners are showing how the fleece is made into useful, wearable fabric. Lorna Macaulay's family lives on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and they have long been producing the tweed that is created by individual weavers in cottages all over the islands. She is now the Chief Executive of the Authority and has been travelling the world as part of The Campaign for Wool supported by HRH The Prince of Wales. She says interest in tweed has declined in popularity in Canada since its heyday in the mid-20th century, but the Authority hopes to renew interest by being at The Royal.
"I'm heartened that young Canadian professionals have come by our stand and say they would pay more for a good quality wool jacket," Macaulay says. "To be honest, I don't think we knew what we were coming to. To have a show like this in a huge cosmopolitan city is astonishing. The number of people that came through here over the weekend was more than the entire population of our islands!"
Parker believes the opportunity to showcase all aspects of sheep production at The Royal is essential. "Showing agricultural excellence is important," she says.
About The Royal:
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world's largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show. This year, the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 3 - 12, 2017 at Exhibition Place, Toronto. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalfair.org.
The Royal is supported in part by the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto.
SOURCE Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
For further information: Karen Poncelet, Marketing Communications and Community Relations Manager, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, 39 Manitoba Drive, Exhibition Place, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3, Direct: 416-263-3411 Fax: 416-263-3488