August Events in Abbotsford

AUGUST 1-2ND, 2015

Abbotsford Agrifair & Mighty Fraser Rodeo 
Abbotsford Exhibition Park – All Weekend Long

Join us for Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley’s favorite summer attraction.  Spend your long weekend experiencing the rodeo, eating mini donuts and enjoying fan favorite events like Richard Racers, West Coast Lumberjack show and bull riding.

Abbotsford Farmer’s Market
Montrose Avenue at George Ferguson Way – Saturday 9am – 1pm

You’ll discover new varieties of fresh local produce; international award-winning jams; and a wide range of food products that are not available in stores.  Plus fresh cut flowers, handmade jewellery, handcrafted soaps, and more. Included vendors are Abundant Acre Family Farm, Gesundheit Bakery Ltd., Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, Pottery by Dave & Family, S. Takhar Berry Farms, Taves Family Farm – The Applebarn, Valley Gold Bee Company.

Envision Financial Concert in the Park Series 
Mill Lake Park– Saturday 4pm-7:30pm

This Saturday night features the talented acts of Joel Willoughby (4-5:30 p.m.) and Midnight Lions (6-7:30 p.m.). The Envision Financial Coffee House Concert and Concert in the Park Series, presented by the Abbotsford Arts Council (AAC) in partnership with Envision Financial, is an annual initiative providing opportunities for local artists to perform in relaxed and casual atmospheres while the community enjoys various musical genres ranging from jazz, blues and folk to country, rock and pop.

Abbotsford Flea Market – Sunday 6am-4pm
32470 Haida Drive, Abbotsford

No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it at the Abbotsford Flea Market.  Admission is only $1.00. Kids under 10 are FREE and we always have FREE parking!  So come on by and start your path of discovery!

Family-Friendly Abbotsford Agrifair is Ready to Entertain this Summer

This August long weekend there’s something for everyone at the annual Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo.

“With a wide variety of activities, every day is a different show,” said Agrifair general manager Pamela Brenner.

Last year’s event saw 33,000 visitors to the Agrifair. This year they’re expecting up to 50,000 visitors and have added an entire extra day of entertainment and activities.

Aside from the professional rodeo, featuring fan-favourite events like steer wrestling, bull riding, and barrel racing, the annual Valley Voices Vocal Competition is sure to impress fair visitors. Finals begin Friday where 15 young artists compete for the grand prize, a chance to record a single at a professional recording studio.

The community and main stages will be loaded with musical entertainment all weekend and features a battle of the bands on Friday and Saturday. Sunday evening hosts Grammy-award winner Laura Story who will perform songs from her new album God of Every Story, including her hit single Til I Met You.

The four day event runs Friday July 31 through Monday August 3 and is bringing back the professional rodeo, 4-H livestock show and competition, live entertainment and contests, Midway, food trucks, demolition derby, and agricultural displays and demonstrations.

For the expanded 2015 fair expect to see many new additions including midget wrestling, the return of popular West Coast Lumberjacks, mini chuckwagon races, and visits from Richard’s Racers, Chef Pamela E and Kids Kitchen, and the Reptile Guy.

Four-day fair weekend passes are $15 per person and children 10 and under are free. Visit for detailed information.

From now until July 20 like Agrifair on Facebook for your chance to win prizes from their ESCAPE to Agrifair contest. The grand prize will be an ultimate fair experience, including four weekend wristbands, two all-day parking passes, four one-day Midway ride passes, customized LEGO prizes, and a chance to be part of the Country Horse Classic horse-pulling team. All you have to do is watch for “the location of the ESCAPE,” and answer the question. Each correct answer is an entry to the contest.

All photos are courtesy of Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

A Guide to Afternoon Tea: Three Places in Abbotsford to Relax in Style

Let’s face it: we’re all busy. Who has time to take a break let alone fuss with the pomp and circumstance surrounding the practice of afternoon tea?

But maybe we should make the time. Brian Haber, owner of Clayburn Village Store and Tea Shop, refuses to serve afternoon tea before 2 p.m. to leave adequate space between patrons visiting the tea room for lunch and those coming to observe the ceremony of afternoon tea.

The Basics

Afternoon tea, also called high tea, has its roots in British culture and has been served in upscale hotels like the Fairmont Empress in Victoria since the early 1900s. Now popularized, afternoon tea can be found in hotels, boutique bakeries, and tea rooms across North America.

My original understanding of tea came from a working holiday as a nanny in England. The area I lived in used the term “tea” to mean dinner. Afternoon tea was lunch leftovers, and cream tea featured a variety of scones, savories, sweets, and other desserts. An essential part of tea is Devonshire cream, which is clotted cream served on scones with preserves.

In North America you will find afternoon tea served between lunch and dinner on decorative chinaware. Although afternoon tea can take many forms, in general the food consists of miniature sandwiches and quiches, fancy pastries, and cakes.

Where to Enjoy Afternoon Tea

Abbotsford offers a variety of ways to indulge in afternoon tea. For an authentic experience look no further than Clayburn Village Store and Tea Shop. Enjoy the handcrafted spread featuring Edwardian sandwiches, salmon pinwheels, and a variety of English pastries. Served between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. you are encouraged to leave your cell phone off and use tea as a time to reflect on your day. Afternoon tea is an extravagant ceremony and must be booked 48 hours in advance.

For a customized high tea experience, Tracycakes Bakery Cafe offers a variety of packages so everyone can take part. It’s Tracycakes’ policy to have high tea available for walk-in orders, but since the kitchen needs 20 minutes to prepare high tea, reservations are encouraged. They also offer a take-out version if you’re hosting high tea for a bridal shower or other event.

Served in-house, salon cafe Little White House offers afternoon tea as a regular menu item featuring elegant finger sandwiches, hot savories, scones served with artisan preserves and Devonshire cream, dainties, pastries, fancies, and more.

Host Your Own Afternoon Tea

With tea time what you serve is as important as how it is served. If you’re hosting afternoon tea have fun with it. Here are a few tips to get you started.

The Table

Your table’s focal point should be a tiered cake stand. If you don’t have one use your best serving dishes and crockery. Under this should be a decadent table cloth (stripes or florals are best), a liberal use of doilies, folded napkins, and (of course) nameplates.

The Dishes

Aim for floral chinaware, but don’t worry about things matching. You should make sure to have a teapot, teacups, silverware, cake slicer, dessert plates, and cream and sugar dispensers. Your jams, preserves, and clotted cream should be plated in fancy serving dishes with utensils.

The Food

Although luxurious, afternoon tea isn’t meant to be a meal. Think small and dainty for everything. Your tiered cake stand should have a layer of miniature sandwiches, a layer of scones, and a layer of teacakes. Also good to have are a variety of savoury and sweet items like pastries and desserts.

The Drinks

Hot tea is assumed but iced tea is also appropriate with afternoon tea. As well you can create special Pimm’s cocktails and mimosas if you so desire.

For your hot teas offer a variety, everything from Earl Grey to fruit. If you have loose leaf now is the time to bring it out! Brew your tea between three and six minutes to maximize the flavour and health benefits.

The Etiquette

Most venues have a relaxed dress code for afternoon tea but this is the perfect excuse to dress up.When eating place your napkin on your lap, not on the table. Since the food is miniature it’s acceptable to treat it as finger food. However, if it’s messy use a fork.

And yes, there is a right way to stir your tea. Place your spoon in a six o’clock position in the cup and fold the tea towards the 12 o’clock position (without clinking!). Hold the handle of your teacup using your thumb and your first one or two fingers. Avoid blowing on the tea and when you’re not drinking tea, place the cup on the saucer.

I can’t think of the last time I took time to savour the moment. Enjoying a decadent afternoon tea seems like the perfect way to slow down and reflect on my day.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Art on Demand Call for Submissions





















“The number one rule of being an artist is getting your work in on time.”

The crowd smiled as Laura Schneider, curator at The Reach Gallery and Museum, offered welcoming remarks and advice to hopeful artists at the opening reception of Art on Demand 1:1.

Although under the direction of the gallery, Art on Demand is curated by members of Emerge, a program for aspiring artists and arts professionals ages 16-30.

This exhibit runs until July 5 and features Emerge members Kendra Schellenberg, Nastasha Mol, and Angelica Born. It is the first of several planned Art on Demand exhibits at The Reach this season.

Schneider said once students complete their bachelor of fine arts degree they often lose touch with the arts community. The Emerge program helps young artists stay connected and gain momentum in their careers.













Emerge membership allows artists to learn professional practices, affords access to workshops, creates networking and mentorship opportunities, and offers several chances per year to exhibit in a professional gallery. The program is ideal for committed young people who can imagine having careers in arts and culture.

For the 2015/16 season, Art on Demand is calling for submissions. Applications are due by June 19, 2015 and will be adjudicated by The Reach staff.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Jam in Jubilee Calling for Sponsors

Continuing the live-music tradition in Abbotsford’s Jubilee Park the family-friendly concert series is calling for sponsors and vendors to help make the free event bigger and better.

Director Sophia Suderman said the volunteer-run event is planning to feature three bands per night with a side-stage act, an artisan market, food trucks, and a licensed beer garden.

This year’s planning committee has been at work since January to create an event representative of local art and culture. Many of the committee members are local artisans in their 20s and 30s.

Sponsorship inquiries and vendor applications are available at

Jam in Jubilee runs Thursday evenings from July 9-July 30, 2015 at 32315 South Fraser Way.

Learn About Good Bugs, Bad Bugs and Daffodils at the 2015 Bradner Flower Show

It was springtime when English horticulturist Fenwick Fatkin noticed a daffodil field out the window while riding a train through Bradner. Thinking the soil must be good he bought land, ordered some bulbs and moved his family out.

This was the beginning of the Bradner Flower Show, now in its 87th year. The 2015 show runs from April 10-12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featuring more than 400 varieties of daffodils, Fatkin’s granddaughter and co-organizer Pauline Isherwood said visitors should expect to be blown away by how many flowers there will be at Bradner Hall and elementary school this year.

“The thing I like about daffodils is that when I see them I know spring is here. That’s spring.” Isherwood and her 90-year-old father plan to run their family table at the event.

Themed “the good, the bad, and the bug-ily,” this year’s guest speaker entomologist Jim Matteoni opens the show on Friday and will answer gardening questions in the Speaker’s Corner. Other featured speakers are Chris Bodnar of Glen Valley Organic Farm, Bert the Mole Man, and Mason bee expert Jim Sadowski.

“This is a good time to come out and find some new and interesting items for your garden,” said co-organizer Lynda Richard, who has planned the show for the past five years. “There’s lots more than daffodils, but of course the daffodils are the star of the show.”

Over the weekend, plant wholesalers and craft vendors will display unique product for those eager to get planting.

For those not gardening this year, there’s plenty to see and do for all ages. With musical performances, cooking demonstrations, taxidermy displays, wine tasting and much more, this is sure to be a fun-filled, educational event.

The Bradner Flower Show begins April 10 at 5305 Bradner Road. The volunteer-run event costs $2 at the door with free parking at the elementary school and along the roadside. There will be a tea room selling homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts all weekend and barbequed food available on Saturday and Sunday.

Visit for more details.

Photos are courtesy of the Reach Gallery.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Three Unique Breakfast Diners in Historic Downtown Abbotsford

There are many reasons to visit Historic Downtown Abbotsford. Crafty gift shops, one-of-a-kind retailers, and, my favourite, breakfast diners. Here are three of my favourite places to enjoy home cooking and local flavour.

O’Neills Home Cooking
33771 Gosling Way

Found just off the beaten path this breakfast and lunch take-out joint is best-known for the O’Neill Classic--a homemade (every morning) sweet potato bun topped with egg, cheese, ham, mayo, and honey mustard. Owner Vernon O’Neill promises if you eat there once, you’ll bring a friend next time. What more could you want?


Mitch Miller’s
33758 Essendene Avenue

Located in the heart of downtown, Mitch Miller’s offers a huge breakfast menu including a wide selection of omelettes, pancakes, and sizzlers. With gluten-free and vegetarian options as well as classic breakfast choices, there’s something for everyone at Mitch Miller’s.

Ann Marie’s Cafe
33771 George Ferguson Way

Abbotsford’s only 50s-style diner serves classic eggs benedict, omelets, and skillets. Pull up a stool and escape the daily grind in this friendly neighbourhood eatery. Read any review and you’ll learn about the great service, customer loyalty, and the must-try dishes. Come in person and take the first step in becoming a regular.

I can never get enough breakfast so if there are any great restaurants missing from this list please let me know! I’ll make sure to check them out.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

The Reach Features Exhibits on Identity, Value and Tradition

On January 22 I attended my first opening reception at The Reach Gallery Museum (32388 Veterans Way).

The team at The Reach let me see the bones of the exhibition before the unveiling, which helped me figure out what to expect at an opening reception.

First of all, it’s not as scary as I imagined. The staff and volunteers are warm and friendly. Special Events and Marketing Co-ordinator Cherlandra Estrada even took the time to show me around and explain the difference between gallery and museum exhibits.

If you have the chance to attend an opening reception, you should! The museum gallery was packed and there were appetizers, drinks, speeches and live music. It was an enjoyable way to spend a Thursday evening. The current exhibits run until the spring so there’s still plenty of time to view them.

Upon entering the lobby and turning right you’ll find yourself in the Great Hall, where both gallery exhibits Decolonize Me and Ancestry and Artistry: Maya Textiles from Guatemala are housed. The exhibits explore ideas of identity, value and tradition.

Decolonize Me features six contemporary Aboriginal artists and explores our country’s history of colonization and individuality. The interactive displays are filled with self-expression yet the pieces are cohesive. Parts of the exhibit were uncomfortable as the study brings to the surface years of conflict and suffering I’d rather ignore. I appreciated how the artists didn’t shy away from confronting the tough stuff and were able to find beauty.


The Ancestry and Artistry exhibit highlights the vibrant resilience of the Mayan culture through textiles from Guatemala. Traditional clothing is an important aspect of Mayan identity and the distinct colourful patterns allow for creative expression and celebration. I enjoyed watching people exclaim over the lovely pieces. Even if you’re not of Mayan heritage it’s easy to relate to the exhibit and appreciate the Mayan people’s desire to cultivate a strong cultural identity in the midst of political, social and religious change.

Museum exhibit 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada stretches through the centre of the Great Hall into the hallway. Until May 3 you can wander through the winding columns, viewing photos and reading stories outlining the legacy and impact of residential schools, which operated from the mid-1800s till the mid-1900s.I learned about residential schools as a child but have never considered the lingering consequences to the extent 100 Years of Loss presents. It’s a powerful display.

The Reach Gallery Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. Their mission is to be the centre of cultural and creative innovation in the Fraser Valley. Visit their website for more about their current exhibits and for the other events and programs available to the public.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Photo credits:
Sovereignty Performance | Cérémonie de la souveraineté, 2009
recycled paper, burnt trees, regalia | papier recyclé, arbres brûlés, costume traditionne
courtesy of the artist | avec la permission de l’artiste

Huipil, San Mateo Ixtatán, late 20th century, Chuj Maya
From the Collection of Donna E. Stewart, MD
Textile Museum of Canada  T2012.23.176
Photo by Maciek Linowski

Ring in the New Year with First Night

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event to ring in the new year, consider First Night at Fraser Valley Tradex in Abbotsford.
“Come comfortable, come to have fun,” said Tradex events manager Brad Styba. There will be an eastern and western new year’s countdown so kids of all ages can enjoy the 500-balloon drop and those who stay up till midnight can take in the firework display.
Admission gives you all-inclusive access to midway rides, live entertainment, giveaways, mini golf, rock climbing, curling and more! And if you pre-purchase your tickets you’re entered for a chance to win two tickets for every public event Tradex hosts in 2015—parking included!

Other prizes include two round-trip tickets anywhere WestJet flies in Canada, tickets to the pet lovers show, and gift cards.
First Night runs from 5 p.m. till midnight on December 31, 2014. Tickets are $10.71 each (kids four and under are free) and are available at Abbotsford and Matsqui Recreation Centres, Tradex, Tourism Abbotsford Visitor Centre and Sevenoaks Mall Customer Service Desk. Parking for this event is free.
Visit the Tradex website for more information.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Ideas

With a few short shopping days left till Christmas don’t forget about the hidden gems on the Passport to Christmas self-guided tour.

Start by grabbing an organic espresso or holiday-themed hot beverage from Wired Monk at the Parallel Marketplace. Try a specialty Candy Cane Mocha, Eggnog Latte, or Gingerbread Macchiato to start your last-minute shopping off on the right foot.

And make sure to stop in on Friday nights from 7 p.m. till close for music nights with Jack and Cookie. The licenced bistro features an open mic and comfortable seating.

Nestled in the heart of Clayburn Village is Clayburn Comforts Soap and Body Works. The artisan, organic soap shop is open Monday, December 22 and Tuesday, December 23 before closing till February 2015.

Stop in anytime between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. for natural soaps for hair, face, body, baby, hands, feet, and so much more. There are also clearance items and gift sets.

And if you’re still in need of Christmas fixings make sure to visit Lepp Farm Market. Stocked with turkeys, pork roasts and more, all Lepp meats are locally raised and processed in-house. The market also carries local and organic sides to minimize your running around.

On the corner of Clayburn Road and Highway 11 the market is open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and till 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.