This past weekend, on July 7, Abbotsford held its 37th annual BerryFest. Downtown Abbotsford saw its fair share of festival goers, intermingling amongst stalls of coffee, pies, games, and rides. Hosted by Aldergrove Credit Union and the Downtown Abbotsford Business Association, the community celebrated our favourite item to grow: the berry.
The festival ran along the streets of Montrose and Essendene, and smack dab in the middle of the cross streets, under the brightly-coloured ferris wheel, sat the Berry Market, featuring Lepp Farms, and Neufeld Farms, hawking bulbous blueberries, juicy cherries, tart raspberries, and voluptuous blackberries.
Abbotsford is the raspberry and blueberry capital of Canada. Therefore, every year an event is held to celebrate this fact. The Berry Festival is a time to enjoy historic Downtown Abbotsford with family, friends, and neighbours.
Among the festivities was a petting zoo, put on by Wild Education, featuring creatures such as tortoises and snakes. Children and adults alike were drawn to these odd animals fenced in to pet and enjoy. Continuing down the street, onlookers saw happy faces peeking out of the “Berry Go Round,” and the ferris wheel.
Food trucks peppered the streets, and the smells of bannock, waffles, and the sweet scent of flavoured syrup from shaved ice wafted to passersby. Once sufficiently filled with berries and baked goods, participation in carnival games was a must, especially when the prizes were blow up swords or inflatable aliens.
The day began with opening remarks, and a pie eating contest, in which Mayor Henry Braun participated with gumption alongside several community members. As the day progressed, there was a berry gardening demonstration given by Brian Minter, owner of Minter Country Garden Store in Chilliwack, alongside his wife, Faye.
Marina Gibson, who spoke at TEDxChilliwack, spoke on urban gardening. Gibson is the garden manager of “The Garden Project,” an urban garden which is sponsored by Abbotsford Community Services.
There was sidewalk chalk put on by Little Bean and Co, complete with an adorable painted boler trailer, face painting by Rainbow Faces, and a Euro Bungee station distributed amongst the vendor booths of local businesses. Children ran amok with various characters on their cheeks, and hands covered in the colours of their imaginations.
People on stilts towered over the event, magicians intermingled with the public, and the sound of laughter and enjoyment wafted on the cool breeze of the day. While overcast, the day was far from dull.
The main stage saw five bands throughout the afternoon and into the evening, including a Bob Marley-esque band, and an Elvis impersonator. Children danced and enjoyed the groovy beats put out by the visiting musicians.
This year over 6,000 attendees were expected according to Downtown Abbotsford’s website page dedicated to the event.
“BerryFest has become a much-anticipated annual summer tradition in Downtown Abbotsford and it just keeps on growing every year,” said Gerry Palmer, president of the Downtown Abbotsford Business Association in an interview with the Abbotsford News.
If you missed the festivities this year, be sure to mark it on your calendar for next summer. It’s a berry good time — you won’t want to miss it.
Image: Jen Klassen/The Cascade