This Saturday in downtown Fort Langley, we celebrate the cranberry.
The 21st annual Cranberry Festival happens in the Village from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During the festival, a section of Glover Road in Fort Langley’s downtown core will be pedestrian-only to allow marketplace vendors to show their wares, while Mary Avenue will close to traffic to accommodate the roughly 18 food trucks that will be serving a wide range of eats.
The cranberry season in B.C. started Sept. 16 with the first berries for the fresh market being harvested, quickly followed on Sept. 19 with berries that will end up in juices, sauces, sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), and more.
“We are excited to confirm that we are expecting an excellent crop this year, both for quality and production.” noted Jack Brown, chairman of the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission.
The Cranberry Festival heralds the arrival of the tart red berries. It’s been a hugely popular annual event, with between 55,000 and 65,000 attendees flocking to the Fort in past years.
In anticipation of the big crowds, free shuttles are running from Trinity Wester University as well as from Walnut Grove Secondary for those not wanting to deal with trying to find parking.
This year, organizers are expecting more than 100 marketplace vendors, selling everything from fresh fruit to preserves, baked goods to spices, pottery, and even a few fun things for kids, such as hand carved wooden toys.
The little stars of the day are the cranberries. There will be copious amounts of fresh, local cranberries for attendees to buy by the bag full. Ocean Spray donates roughly 10,000 pounds of the ruby red fruit for the festival, which “has a little something for everyone,” said coordinator Meghan Neufeld.
There will be a full line-up of live entertainment on the stage in front of the Fort Langley Community Hall, as well as the Creative Cube offering kids activities all day, she added.
There is also the Cranberry Festival Regatta happening on the Fraser River, only feet away from the festival and, Neufeld said, “the Fort National Historic Site always offers a unique experience.”
The festival has grown over the years, and is a way to celebrate not only Thanksgiving but the B.C. cranberry harvest, which accounts for roughly 12 per cent of the North American harvest.
On a personal note, Neufeld had never been to the Cranberry Festival when she was approached to coordinate the event in 2013.
But she saw it as an opportunity to do something different in the community and to work with a group of like-minded individuals.
“Each year since, myself and the board that I work with, make changes in a effort to improve the attendee’s experience,” Neufeld said. “And I appreciate working with a group that will take a good look at what needs to be improved upon and implement the necessary changes.”
There’s a threat of rain in Saturday’s forecast, but Neufeld hopes it doesn’t keep people away.
During last year’s festival, there was some rain throughout the day, but not much, and the previous two years were sunny days.
“We will have to see what the turn out is like this year, but I hope that people will grab an umbrella, put on their wellies and join us for a couple of hours,” Neufeld said. “We live on the West Coast. Rain is a just part of our lives.”
The festival kicks off with a pancake breakfast, put on by the Fort Langley Lions Club, starting at 8:30 a.m. in the rear courtyard of the Coulter Berry building at 9220 Glover Road.