EXPLORE ABBY BLOG

Fraser Valley Rings in the New Year

Did you know Abbotsford hosted the second annual Fraser Valley First Night? Thousands of residents from the Fraser Valley and surrounding Metro Vancouver communities were at Tradex in Abbotsford on December 31st to ring in the New Year.

The Fraser Valley First Night 2016 was attended by over 3700 guests. The family-friendly event featured midway rides, climbing wall, live entertainment, Tumblebus, Creative Cube, inflatable kid’s activities, face painting, balloon drop, and a midnight fireworks display.  And judging by the response from guests throughout the evening, the event struck a chord with many people who are looking for something affordable to do in the Valley with their families on New Year’s.

“This was our second year hosting the event, it has been so much fun to be surrounded by so many families enjoying such a special evening together in a safe, warm, family-friendly environment,” said Craig Nichols, Executive Director of the Tourism Abbotsford Society. ”The team here is excited to begin plans for next year.”

Highlights of the evening also included free family photos courtesy of North Pole BC, a magic show by Gary Savard, and the opportunity for kids in attendance to learn some new dance moves under the instruction of Lorissa Arndt.

“The evening would not have been as successful without the support of the City of Abbotsford, our great community sponsors, and a large team of volunteers. A big thank you is owed to them.” Parking for the event was free courtesy of Fraserway RV, Sky Helicopters provided a prize draw of a helicopter tour, and the City of Abbotsford provided the outdoor stage.

Be sure to mark your calendars for next years celebration! 

Photo Credit: Abbotsford News | See full gallery of images here.

Three Holiday Appetizers from Abbotsford Farms

This season, preparing a gorgeous, delicious, and local holiday appetizer or hostess gift doesn’t have to break the bank and is easier than you think! Here are three amazing appetizer suggestions from local Abbotsford farms. 

Rockweld Farm

BCSPCA certified organic chicken farmers Tim and Flo Rempel sell eggs and chicken (whole or pierced) from their farm store on Townshipline Road. Located at 34205 Townshipline Road. Open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings (click for recipe)

Ingredients
• Rockweld Farm chicken wings
• 2 parts teriyaki sauce
• 1 part barbeque sauce

 

Lepp Farm Market

Specializing in pork, the family-run farm launched as a corn stand in 1995. In 2009 they opened their year-round farm market at the corner of Highway 11 and Clayburn Road. Located at 33955 Clayburn Road, open seven days a week 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Smoked Chorizo paired perfectly with Abbotsford’s Campbell’s Gold Honey, this spicy, sweet, and highly addictive dish is great for taking to any Holiday party.

Lepp's Honey Wine Chorizo (click for recipe) 

Ingredients
• 2 Lepp’s Chorizo Sausage
• ½ cup white wine
• 3 tablespoons Campbell’s Gold Honey

 

Mt.Lehman Cheese Co.

The Dykstra family aims to provide high quality, hand-crafted cheese using fresh milk from local farms with as few other ingredients as possible. Located at 30854 Olund Road. Products are available at 37 retailers including Lepp Farm Market and Nature’s Fare.

Goat Cheese and Goji Berry Wrap (click for recipe)

Ingredients
• Mt. Lehman Cheese garlic and herb chevre
• Mt. Lehman Cheese Matsqui aged cheddar
• Gojoy Fresh goji berries
• Sundried tomato soft tortilla shell
• 1 chicken breast

All three of these farms are part of Abbotsford's Circle Farm Tour.

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

North Pole BC Brings the Magic of Christmas to Life

This year’s North Pole BC Festival of Christmas at the Fraser Valley Tradex is bigger and better than ever.

Aside from the familiar Christmas elements like meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, decorating cookies at the Gingerbread Bakery, mailing a letter at the North Pole Post Office, and attending the Elven School of Secret Skills, there are lots of new activities for children of any age to enjoy.

“We’re bringing back the warmth and magic of Christmas,” said creative director Victoria Hardy.

Some of the new exhibits at this year’s North Pole BC include Prancer’s Pantomime, Creation Station, and Tinsel Town for toddlers.The cast for this year’s indoor Festival of Christmas is sure to enchant your entire family or group.

There will be ample photo opportunities with popular cast members Snow Princess, Miss Candy Cane, Toy Soldier, Town Crier, and more. And be sure to participate in the festival-wide scavenger hunt—you never know what you’ll discover within the interactive displays!

North Pole BC’s Festival of Christmas runs from December 4 through 23. Tickets are $15 including tax for those 24 months and older. Although available at the door, booking ahead is advised. Visit northpolebc.com for schedule, hours, availability, and tickets. Parking is $6 with $2 going to the Abbotsford Food Bank. Parking on December 10th is free.

North Pole BC’s Festival of Christmas is part of Tourism Abbotsford’s Passport to Christmas. Use your online e-guide to lead you through the local experiences that will elevate your holiday spirit! Download the full guide and share your passport adventures by tagging #ExploreAbbotsford on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

Find your holiday spirit in the Fraser Valley

The holiday season is the perfect time to curl up by the fire, spend time with family, and partake in all that seasonal cheer. However, it’s not without its stresses, particularly when it comes to shopping. So how can you enjoy your holiday shopping without the stress?

12 years ago, a guide called the Passport to Christmas was created to help busy people in the Fraser Valley take the stress out of shopping. This year, the handy passport can be downloaded to your phone or tablet. Use the online e-guide to lead you through the local experiences that will elevate your holiday spirit! Spend this holiday season enjoying and exploring the events, entertainment, fine foods and unique shops of Abbotsford.

The hard to shop for

Here’s a list of local’s favourite stores where you can find the perfect present for that “hard to shop for” person in your life…

Glenda’s Christmas Cottage has been a partner of the Passport to Christmas since its founding. The store offers a vast selection of one-of-a-kind ornaments let you to bring the Christmas merriment home with you. Tanglebank Garden Center prides themselves on specializing in German handmade Inge Glass and Nutcracker Collectibles, also check out the many events and courses they're holding this year. Start a new Christmas tradition after with a visit to the Nutcracker Ballet, which will be held at the Abbotsford Arts Center or the West Coast Christmas Show and Market at Tradex this weekend. Still can't find that one gift? We're sure Clayburn Comforts Soap will have that memorable present.  

Hostess and Host Gifts

Open houses, company Christmas parties, family Christmas party, the list is endless. With all the parties, it is hard to keep hostess / host Gifts fresh and different. Here are a couple of options that will make you seem like a gift-giving master.

Pumpkins and cranberries are so passé. Check out Onnink’s Blueberry Farm which offers a variety of products such as Blueberry Bon Bons, Blueberry tea and Blueberry coffee, and pre made decorative baskets that will be a hit with everyone you know. Sip, savour and enjoy this Christmas season with any of Abbotsford’s local wines and beers. Local wine from Singletree Winery and Mt.Lehman Winery make for a truly distinctive Fraser Valley hostess gift. More of a beer lover? Pick up a growler from Old Abbey Ales and celebrate the season with one of their 26 different Belgium beers on tap.

For the foodie

These people can turn any evening into a culinary adventure. Their kitchen looks like it’s out of a magazine and their meals look like they should have their own show on TV. What do you buy these kitchen gurus? 

Sweet, delicious and gone too soon, nothing improves a recipe or inspires creative creation like a jar of Campbell’s Gold Honey. Wine, fudge, pies and don’t forget the jams, jellies and other preserves that are all crafted on site at Maan Farms Country Kitchen. It has a great play area for the kids while you peruse the market. Let the kids run off their excitement and energy while you browse the large selection of local products for sale. Looking for local produce and farm to table products? Take a visit to Lepp Farm Market.

When all of the hectic holiday shopping, planning and cooking is done, the last thing you want to start doing is thinking about New Years. So, Tradex is taking care of the party planning for you. Join Tradex for the Fraser Valley First Night 2016. This family-friendly New Year’s celebration will offer up fireworks, rides, entertainment and both the East / West coast countdowns. Join in the fun on December 31, doors open at 5 p.m.

Share your holiday adventures in the valley by tagging #ExploreAbbotsford on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. After you have completed the Passport to Christmas, take the survey

Come Try Something New at Singletree Winery

At the north end of Mount Lehman Road sits 12 acres of vineyards on rolling hills, grown by the Etsell family. Since 2005 the farming family has planned to use part of their 65 acres for vineyards and in June 2015 their tasting room opened to the public as Singletree Winery.

General manager and viticulturist Andrew Etsell said he wants people to feel comfortable when they visit.

“The wine industry can be intimidating,” he said. “We’re an easygoing farming family—you’ll be treated the same if you wear flip-flops or if you’re dressed for high tea.”

Current releases include a 2013 Farmhand White, a 2013 Pinot Noir, and a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.

Their winery name is inspired by the pioneering farming tool, the singletree. It’s a single harness yolk, which allowed horses to clear land for farming in the late 1800s. The Etsell family is proud to carry on the tradition of working the land. In fact, their first 3,600 vines were hand planted!

The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5:30 p.m. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic, pick up a bottle of wine, and enjoy the beautiful view of Mount Baker. Singletree wines are also available at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and several local restaurants.

“We’re a regular Abbotsford family farm who really enjoys wine and decided to open a winery,” Etsell said. “Come and try something new!”

Singletree Winery, located at 5782 Mount Lehman Road, is a featured partner of the Abbotsford Specialty Beer and Wine Tour.

This map is your guide for hyperlocal, unique experiences while visiting Abbotsford. It showcases the developing industry of craft breweries and wineries opening throughout the city. Download a PDF copy or pick one up at any Abbotsford craft brewery or winery.


Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city. 1st Photo credit - Christine McAvoy. 

Ravens Brewing Company is Inspired by Abbotsford

Ravens Brewing Company may be one of the newest businesses in Abbotsford, but they’ve got no shortage of customers. The busy tasting room has been showcasing unique, handcrafted beer since June 2015 and is only growing.

Owner Paul Sweeting has created a range of core beers to please for everyone from the first-timer with their signature Golden Ale, to the craft beer savant with their Farmers Ale saison. Sweeting wants people who visit the brewery to experience something new every time they visit.

“Everyone’s tastes are their own. You don’t have to like our beer—but we hope you do,” he said.

On top of their core brews, Ravens Brewing Company offers seasonal ales. Right now they have a white IPA and a raspberry hefeweizen. The 450 pounds of raspberries in the hefeweizen travelled three kilometres from picking to brewing—an extreme local beer for enthusiasts.

Working with local growers and businesses is a focus for Ravens Brewing Company. Inspired by the agricultural roots surrounding the Abbotsford area, they aim to create great beers full of character and style in a friendly and welcoming environment.

The tasting room is open daily from noon and you’re invited to bring your lunch and enjoy a flight at the long log table while making new friends.

One unique element of the craft brewing industry is growler fills. A grower is a refillable glass jug, which you can fill at any craft brewery.

In British Columbia the craft brewing industry is thriving, with three new breweries opening in Abbotsford alone this year. Editor Stephen Smysnuik noticed this trend and decided to launch The Growler Craft Beer Handbook, which curates breweries across the lower mainland.

“I thought, man there’s a lot happening here. Someone should really put a publication together to keep stock of this.”

Smysnuik said The Growler reflects the industry as much as possible and aims to provide a comprehensive look at the growing craft beer industry in B.C.

Current issues are available at local breweries, including Ravens Brewing Company, and back issues can be ordered from thegrowler.ca

Ravens Brewing Company, located in at 2485 Townline Road, is a featured partner of the Abbotsford Specialty Beer and Wine Map.

This map is your guide for hyperlocal, unique experiences while visiting Abbotsford. It showcases the developing industry of craft breweries and wineries opening throughout the city. Download a PDF copy or pick one up at any Abbotsford craft brewery or winery.

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

Weekend fun for all ages

AUG 14 - 16th, 2015


Prospera's Cinema under the Stars Presents: BIG HERO 6 – Friday Night at Dusk
Abbotsford Exhibition Park

Bring the family and take in a free flick on a 3-storey high big screen. The movie will begin at dusk. Before, there will be fun activities for families to enjoy. You bring the blankets (no pets allowed), we'll bring the stars!

Family Fun Day at Campbell’s Gold – Saturday 11am – 3pm
2595 Lefeuvre Rd, Abbotsford

Tours, fun and bee education for all ages. Bring your picnic blanket to enjoy a free pancake breakfast and kics lemonade in the picnic area. This fun filled day includes cheese tasting from Mt. Lehman Chese Co, walks through the live bee hive and queen bee marking demonstration. As well, a bouncy castle, craft table, and face painting!
 
Family Channel Big Ticket Concert – Saturday at 6pm
Abbotsford Centre, tickets required.

The highly awaited concert tour: Family Channel Big Ticket Summer Concert presented by LEGO Friends will be at Abbotsford Centre this Saturday! Showcasing the biggest and brightest young talent from across the globe like UK sensation The Vamps.

Bob and Lolo live at High Street – Sunday 1pm
Central Plaza at High Street Mall

Treehouse regulars Bobs & Lolo are coming back to Highstreet! And it’s free! Let Bobs & Lolo entertain, educate and inspire your kids with singing, dancing and fun followed by a meet and great. Be sure to come early and grab lunch at one of the retailers!


 

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 agrifair.ca 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.

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.