Each season has its ups and downs, but nothing catches our interests quite like fall. The sweltering heat of summer is gone, replaced by crisp, cool weather, and a long list of things to be excited about. You can finally dig out your favorite sweaters and boots from the closet, and the holiday season starts to take effect with Thanksgiving and Halloween. October marks the time when fall is finally in full swing, which makes it the perfect time for the 22nd Annual Fort Langley Cranberry Festival.
On October 7, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., citizens and tourists hailing from all corners of the Fraser Valley made an appearance at the Cranberry Festival to celebrate a beautiful beginning to the fall season. The public buzzed with enthusiasm about the recent season change.
The bulk of the market and festivities took place down Glover Road, the main street of Fort Langley, though the surrounding streets were teeming with activity as well. More celebrations could be found around the corner at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, and also down by the river where canoe tours of the Fraser were taking place. With an estimated 60,000 people in attendance, this massive festival puts Abbotsford’s Berry Festival to shame.
The festival is so popular that cars were lined up outside the town for at least 25 minutes of walking, most likely due to the fact that parking was free and therefore difficult to find.
The market was massive, stretching from St. Andrew’s United Church, all the way to the train tracks at the end of town. The list of vendors included artisans showcasing their knitting, carving, jewelry, and other crafts. The air was filled with the scents from baked goods, jams, salts, fudges, and cured meats. You could find liquors of all sorts from local distilleries, wineries, and breweries. Food trucks lined an entire side street. Dozens more booths were selling items such as soaps, candles, and much more. It was all cranberry themed or flavoured.
This was an excellent opportunity for the town to showcase its local farms, and they did not disappoint. Fresh cranberries were available for purchase by the main stage area. 10,000 pounds of them were being sold for as little as three dollars per bag.
On the main stage in front of the city hall, local band Her Brothers performed, but the music did not stop there. Everywhere you looked, there was live music to be seen and heard. In one direction, a most impressive strings and blues band formed of local friendly elderly gentlemen. In the other, violinists lined the streets, both in groups and solo acts, the musicians’ ages varied widely.
There were also a series of cranberry themed events that took place at the Fort Langley National Historic Site during the festival, such as a cranberry stomp, races, a scavenger hunt, cooking demos, and a fashion show.
Among the success of this event, there was one flaw: basic festival information was not readily available. Several key booths were unable to provide information such as the stage lineup and attraction listings, nor could they identify a place to find this knowledge. There was no program guide to be found, nor a map locating key areas. For future festivals, it may be wise for the organizers to consider printing items such as these, or setting up a booth where festival goers may be able to attain this information.
Overall, the festival was a massive success. The market, music, and other events were engaging, informative, and brought the community together in celebration. Highlighting local artisans, musicians, businesses, and more, was only one aspect of the event. The Cranberry Festival serves to inspire excitement and the spirit of fall in the people of the Fraser Valley, and it did just that.