Last Wednesday I spent the afternoon with a roomful of poultry at the Royal Winter Fair where I was treated to an exhibition of fascinating chicken, turkey, and duck breeds.
There were so many beautiful breeds on display. It was truly eye-opening and great research for the day I am finally able to keep my first small flock (Backyard chickens are still illegal in Toronto.) I was jumpy clapping on the inside all day long.
Rhode Island Red is a classic that most people have heard of.
Plymouth Rock Barred is known as a good layer and is particularly suited to cold weather.
Buff Brahma Bantam is another good layer that is recommended for cold climates.
Antwerp Belgian Bantam
My friends and I all agreed that the most stunning and surprising breed of the event were the Silver Sebright bantams. Unfortunately, some quick research reveals that they lay very small eggs and are primarily kept for their beauty rather than egg productivity.
Turnout in the mutant vegetable competition at The Royal Winter Fair was disappointingly lackluster this year. I don’t know if it was the poor weather this season, or a waning lack of interest in growing monstrous, overgrown produce, but it seems that the competition fell from an abundantly healthy display in years past to the above six, pathetic contenders.
To be fair, I don’t recall having seen Siamese twin cucumbers before and was quite impressed. But the duck shaped potato that in my humble opinion stole first place from the Siamese twin cucumbers… PLEASE.
I should have entered my sweet potatoes, however we ate them all up soon after harvesting. The entire crop grew into twisted puzzle pieces that together could do a decent imitation of stomach intestines. Take THAT potato duck! I’m crafting myself a mental grand prize ribbon as I write this.
I pretty much only go to The Royal for the mutant veg, so thank god for the adjacent table of whale-sized squashes and melons or I would have been forced to demand a refund.
Look at the size of this thing! We put a quarter next to it for size comparison. At this size vegetables tend to morph but I’d hazard a guess that it’s a butternut squash.
I don’t know what they’ve got in their soil, but two of these three jumbo squashes were grown by competitors with the same last name. The biggest one is listed as a ‘long gourd’ or ‘Sicilian zucchini’ and comes in at 9ft 10.25.
It was held to the support structure with camo duct tape, a detail that won my heart. Automatic win! No, I wasn’t a judge. However, if there is a fall fair that would have me, I’d be very into it!
I neglected to record the weight of these larger than life-sized apples.
Enormous sunflowers and corn: one of my favourite categories.
And last but not least, the giant pumpkins.
These potatoes were a part of the regular produce competition. They looked so fake from what I deem to be excessive polishing, that I actually had to touch them to prove they weren’t made of plastic. That friends, is weirder to me than a Siamese twin cucumber.
A friend and I attended The Royal, Toronto’s big city attempt at a country fall fair. I was unable to make it over the last few years and forgot how good it is. Fall fairs are like cultural anthropology that happens close to home. There’s just something wholesome, quaint, and yet slightly off about neatly displayed jars of preserves, big piles of prize-winning sheared wool, and butter sculptures. I love it!
We went straight for my favorite part: the mutant veggies. I’ve really gotta try my hand at growing an out-of-control turnip or carrot one of these days. I’m too hung up on results-based gardening — turning out produce that is actually edible. I’m missing out on the time-honored tradition of making stuff HUGE just for the hell of it!
We concluded that it had to be a beet. Possibly a ‘Golden Beet.’
I’m disappointed in the lack of grotesqueness of this first place prize-winning potato. It’s too cute to be a prize-winning mutant. Reminds me of a baby seal.
No amount of roasting or Cuisinart trickery can transform this wooden zucchini into something edible. I suggest burning for warmth.
The tag says, “8th Place for Most Unusually Shaped Vegetable.” Help.