Fort Langley’s decades-old Thanksgiving tradition is making its return this fall.
First started in 1995, the Cranberry Festival is held each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the 27th edition is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Langley Advance Times spent some time with festival organizer Meghan Neufeld, who has been overseeing the festival since 2013. Along with some ups and downs, she has also seen multiple organizations taking charge of the festival over the years.
Initially started by a community of farmers, the festival was later transferred to Fort Langley Business Improvement Association (BIA). In 2020, after the closure of the BIA, the Eric Woodward Foundation assumed the long-term stewardship.
“The footprint of the festival [in 2013] was much smaller, but over the years it has grown significantly,” Neufeld commented.
Many families come from as far as Okanagan and have made the visit to the festival an annual family tradition, Neufeld shared.
Each year about 35,000 people participate in the event, but with lock down in-affect in 2020, the difficult decision to put the project on halt was taken.
But, even then – to make sure people don’t lose touch with the old tradition, organizers decided to deliver fresh cranberries to the doorsteps of those who registered.
The following year, the event returned in-person but with limited participation and on a smaller scale.
In 2022, ahead of Thanksgiving, the original-style Cranberry Festival is making its comeback to once again celebrate the region’s tradition and recognize cranberry’s role in local history that goes back thousands of years.
“It’s going to look similar to the pre-pandemic layout,” Neufeld announced.
About 5,000 pounds of fresh cranberries from Ocean Spray are on the way to Fort Langley for the festival. People can purchase a bag of berries for $5 from a booth near the community hall.
In addition, multiple food trucks and vendors will be present, selling everything cranberries and more.
Like in 2019, the Glover Road and Mary Avenue area will be closed for vehicles. There will be live entertainment starting at 10 a.m., running throughout the day, with seven Fraser Valley bands performing at the Fort Langley Community Hall.
10 a.m. Six Gun Romeo
10:30 a.m. Elvis Presley 50s (Johnny Elvis)
11 a.m. – Silver Diamond Dancers
11:30 – 11:45 Roy Orbison
12 p.m. – Kwantlen 1st Nations
12:30 p.m. – Buddy Holly
1 p.m. – Surrey Firefighters Pipes
1:30 p.m. – Elvis Presley 70s
2 p.m. – The Seabillys
2:30 – 2:45 Roy Orbison
3 p.m. – Coyote Creek
4 p.m. – Mayday Youth Club Choir
But, before the actual event, people will gather for another old tradition – the annual pancake breakfast by the members of the Lions Club. The paid breakfast party will begin at 9 a.m.
The Fort Langley Historic site will host a scarecrow contest and offer free admission. People can also head to the river to watch the canoe club members participate in a race.
The kids’ zone across the community hall will feature face painting, balloon artists, craft activities, and more.
About 30 volunteers are part of the event, helping with setup, berry sales, and more. Everything wraps up about 5 p.m.
Neufeld said the event has become a source of community pride, and means a lot to the local community and many across the Lower Mainland.
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