It was another sign of the pandemic times when earlier in the year the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair announced it would be cancelling the 2020 edition that traditionally is held the first two weeks in November. “The Royal,” as it is affectionately known, has been the finale of every southern Ontario show season for decades, where riders from around the globe take part in international show jumping, the Canadian Show Jumping champion is crowned, along with dressage exhibitions, a rodeo, and numerous other equine events. The first fair was staged in 1922 at the Coliseum on Toronto’s Exhibition Grounds, which meant this year would have been its 98th edition. Without a doubt, horsemen and women of all ages, disciplines and skill levels will miss it.

But all is not lost. The powers that be have announced that over five days – November 10-14 – The Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience will bring the vibe of the beloved fair to online viewers in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

For the horse crowd there is Breaking Down the Round, which offers up one-on-one intimate interviews with top equestrian personalities from around the world. Topics include how they got into horse sport, what they’ve been up to during COVID and their plans for the future. Athletes of all ages will hear useful advice from people like Ian Millar, Jacqueline Brooks, Jimmy Torano and even special guest, Amber Marshall, Star of CBC’s Heartland.

Fireside Chats, presented by Henry Equestrian will take place live with Ian Millar, Beth Underhill, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward and the floor will be open to questions, so mark your calendars for these special events.

Now, The Royal isn’t just about the horse show; thousands of people flock to the fair to take in dogs, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry (and other animals), learn about agricultural advances, shop, shop and shop, and of course sample food and wine. The virtual experience will serve up the same variety, ensuring there is something for everyone including the Agricultural Zone, which will showcase the future of farming in Canada and the practices the industry is implementing to meet society’s food needs, while ensuring sustainability.

Then there is The Burnbrae Farms Culinary Series which offers up cooking demonstrations by local Ontario chefs, featuring locally sourced ingredients. This experience will have you cooking along with the chefs in your own kitchen! For those who love to learn there is A Place to Grow Presented by University of Guelph, which will let virtual users explore how science, technology, research, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are improving the ways we grow, think about, manage and enjoy food. Plus, the Super Dogs, Urban Farming, Northern Ontario cuisine and much more.

Registration is FREE; go to