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 Facebook.com/bradnerhall 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.

Visit the North Pole at the Tradex

There are still a few days left for you and your family to visit the North Pole BC’s Festival of Christmas at the Fraser Valley Tradex.

You’ll experience all things Christmas and Santa. Decorate gingerbread cookies, join Mrs. Claus for story time, learn to sing and dance like an elf and post a letter to Santa!

Upon entering the transformed Tradex I was transported to a land of iridescent snowflakes, twinkle lights and elegant scenes. I wandered the magical land in awe, my attention split between finding the items on my Christmas Scavenger Hunt and waving to friendly, singing elves.

I met a cast of interesting characters including the eccentric toy inventor Professor Hazel Nutt, the carolling elves from Ye Olde Bandstand, an Ice Princess and of course Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Although not the first year of operations for the North Pole BC it’s the first time in this location. The exhibit is bigger than ever with opportunities to purchase Christmas gifts from vendors, take photos with Santa and make stuff-your-own-animals. And if you visit on the weekend you can enjoy the Midway Rides, a new addition to the North Pole.

Just before leaving the North Pole (and returning to reality), I stopped to visit Santa. He was looking at a scroll-like paper. A young boy paused beside me and called, “Santa, is that The List?”

Santa looked up and smiled. “Yes, I’m checking it now.”

I thought it was sweet. Until Santa looked at me, closed his scroll and shook his head with a grimace.

“Would you like to see my list?”

“Santa, I don’t want to know.”

North Pole BC is the perfect place to take those special people in your life who still believe in the magic of Santa Claus. Admission to the interactive exhibit is $12.50 per person. You can pre-register online or purchase tickets at the door. Parking is $6 with $2 going to the Abbotsford Food Bank.

North Pole BC’s Festival of Christmas is part of Tourism Abbotsford’s Passport to Christmas.

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

Glenda’s Christmas Cottage is a Feast for the Senses

Tourism Abbotsford’s Passport to Christmas is a great excuse to explore and discover all the unique Christmas experiences Abbotsford has to offer. The best part is when you visit participating venues and have your passport stamped you can enter to win great prizes!

One stop on the tour I’ve always meant to visit is the seasonal boutique specializing in all things Christmas, otherwise known as Glenda’s Christmas Cottage.

Just off of Mt. Lehman road sits the well-signed, well-lit Christmas village. With thousands of lights this property is a must-see after dark. For someone like me who has never visited the popular family destination take my advice: prepare your senses for Christmas overload!

I paused before entering the store to enjoy the outdoor decorations and Christmas carols. Once entering I stopped in my tracks, unsure of where to look first. The friendly shopkeepers noticed my stunned expression and guided me towards the complimentary hot spiced apple juice and candy samples. It was a good place to start. The small cottage houses an impressive assortment of decor, collectables and gift ideas.

Wandering around the shop in awe I spent quite a while taking in the selection. Although I walked around the store three times I’m quite certain I didn’t see half of it. No wonder people come back year after year, there’s always something new to discover.

Now in its 25th year, Glenda’s Christmas Cottage is proud to represent the sights and sounds of Christmas to its many, many visitors. While I was there I saw a mix of first-time and return shoppers, all seeming pleased with their special finds.

Glenda’s Christmas Cottage is one of several stops on this year’s Passport to Christmas, which runs till the end of December. Don’t forget to have your brochure stamped at participating venues—this year’s grand prize is a private dinner for 12 at Tanglebank Gardens! You need four stamps to enter. Get your brochure at participating Passport to Christmas locations or at the Tourism Abbotsford Information Centre.

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

Gallery 7 Launches Season with Lord of the Flies

Photo by Dianna Lewis of Creative Memory Studios

It’s not too often you get the chance to see a live production of a book you read in high school. Abbotsford’s Gallery 7 opens their 2014-2015 season with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies this November 7, 8, and 13-15.

“There are themes in this story that need to be talked about even today,” said Director Ken Hildebrandt. While being true to the original story, Hildebrandt said they’ve decided to set the play in the not-so-distant future.

In the midst of nuclear war, an airplane carrying English school boys crashes on a deserted island. Forced to fend for themselves, the survivors create a society. Governed by simple rules and regulations what seems like paradise soon disintegrates into savage anarchy as fear of an evil beast, as well as the lust for power and control, takes over.

This dark and edgy production is about the human capacity for evil when we don’t take control of our fear or ignorance. It addresses tough questions about conflict and war and asks why this still happens today.

Recommended for ages 12 and up due to language and violence the play may seem dark but it’s really about our search for light and hope for something better.

“Sometimes you have to see the darkness before you can see the opposite,” said Hildebrandt.

He said seeing a live play is completely different than any other entertainment form. Not only is every performance different but over the course of a couple hours a relationship is built between the audience and the performer, which shapes the experience for everyone.

The community-based theatre launches their season in the Abbotsford Arts Centre (2329 Crescent Way), and highlights local actors. This is their first performance in the new venue.

Lord of the Flies is among the first novels of the dystopian genre and is similar in tone and theme to stories like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Giver. Tickets are available online or from House of James.

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

Photo by Dianna Lewis of Creative Memory Studios.

Outdoor Activities for Brisk Autumn Days

If the brisk autumn weather makes you crave the outdoors, there are some lovely and local farm stops you have to make before the season ends.

Taves Family Farm - Applebarn

Just north of the border on Gladwin road is the sprawling Taves Family Farm, also known as Applebarn. A popular destination for artisan food lovers and families alike, there is something for everyone at this stop on the Circle Farm Tour.

Owner Loren Taves showed me around his farm, explaining how they continue to grow each year, adding attractions like a petting zoo, a corn maze, hayrides, jumping pillows, and a zip line. Catering to the under 12 crowd, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy all day long.

But before you forget, Applebarn is still a working farm. With acres of greenhouses, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and a country store, you can find fresh-grown apples, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, squash and more along with homemade honey and cider.

Your armband is all you need to access all the activities on-site but if a quick trip is all you’re interested in you can also visit Applebarn at the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market.

Abbotsford Farm & Country Marke

Until Christmas, Saturdays from 9-1, at the end of Montrose Avenue off George Ferguson Way becomes the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market.

Market manager Bruce Fatkin told me one of their unique features is when you speak to a vendor, you’re talking to a person directly involved in creating the product you’re purchasing.

The Abbotsford market carries a variety of fruit, vegetables, jams, baked goods, soaps, jewelry, and more, all from local vendors selling in season. If you’re looking for organic, local, artisan products at competitive prices make sure to visit the market.

Bruce said one difference between farm markets and grocery stores are the amounts you buy. At a market you tend to purchase what you’ll consume in a week whereas at larger stores your tendency is to purchase food in bulk.

Watch the market website for the addition of local wine, beer, and spirit sales, expected to join the vendor list in the coming weeks.

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

It’s Haunted House Time at the MSA Museum!

Haunted House Time at the MSA Museum
As the days grow shorter and the chill is in the morning air, we know Halloween isn’t fair away. Whether you’ve got little ones all excited to dress up for a school event, or older kids who spend hours creating “the perfect” costume, or you’re excited for your own spooky party – Halloween can be a fun time for everyone in the family.

My kids and I, plus grandma who’s just a big kid herself – LOVE and I mean LOVE the MSA Museum’s annual Halloween Haunted House at Trethewey House. This historic home is decorated inside and out with enough frights for everyone! The best part is they have created TWO events – depending on the age of the participants. So your little goblins can get dressed up, tour the house, enjoy snacks and have fun that won’t scare them too much between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on Friday, October 31st. For the bigger (and maybe braver) ones the tour gets scarier between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

There’s a costume contest, with prizes, so make sure you are all dressed up – that includes mom and dad (and in our case grandma!).

If you’d like to be involved behind the scenes, volunteers are also needed to greet guests, serve refreshments, dress up in costumes and help with set up and take down. If you’d like a new perspective on Halloween and want to volunteer get in touch with the Museum – info@msamuseum.ca or 604-853-0313 or you can fill out the volunteer form on their website.

If the cooler days of Fall are more your style, and you’d rather be outdoors than dressed up check out our local apple and pumpkin fields. There are so many local farms that offer not only apples and pumpkins, but hay rides, petting zoos, fresh pressed apple cider and more! Here are some of our favorites:
Taves Family Farm
Willow View Farms
Maan Farms
You can find lots more farms to visit on the Circle Farm Tour website.

The Fall is a fantastic time to live in the Fraser Valley; we watch the leaves turning and the hillsides are ablaze with colour. We can enjoy fresh apples, pumpkins and squash and have fun at great events like the MSA Museum’s Haunted House. Get out there and enjoy your community. Share your favorite Fall and Halloween activities and photos on our Facebook page – we’d love to see your adventures on the farm, Halloween costumes and delicious goodies you’ve created from local food.