The 18th annual Fort Langley Cranberry Festival takes place on Saturday, October 12, 2013 around the village of Fort Langley. You can celebrate the history of the cranberry at the festival starting at 8:30am with a pancake breakfast followed by an entire day of family-friendly activities around the region from 10:00am until 4:00pm.
The festival will have contest giveaways, live music and entertainment on the main stage, cooking demos, fashions shows, and more. There will also be over 70 market vendors, selling jewelry, specialty candy, organic coffee, hand-made crafts, and other goods.
You can also enjoy 50% off admission to the Fort Langley National Historic Site, with baking bannock, barrel-making, and old-fashioned kids’ games. Discover how cranberries were traditionally harvested by the Katzie people, traded to the Hudson’s Bay Company workers at the fort, and exported to scurvy-ridden gold prospectors in the 1840s and 50s.
Fort Wine Co. for the Cranberry Festival
Over at the Fort Wine Co. (at 26151 – 84th Avenue) about 5 minutes east of the Village of Fort Langley, they will have activities, tastings, and even a helicopter tour that will lift you up to get a bird’s eye view of the cranberry beds and bogs during the festival on October 12th.
Marc Smith arranged an interview with Toby Bowman, the resident wine maker at Fort Wine Co., which specializes in berry wines. He invited me along to the Fort Wine Co. earlier this week so he could research his own segment for CTV Morning Live and chat with Toby about the berry wine business and the upcoming Cranberry Festival.
Once we were done in the wine shop and bistro, we took a quick drive out to the flooded cranberry bogs. Sporting hip waders and securing my camera around my neck, we walked out into the bog where ripe berries were popping up to the surface.
With a snow-capped Mount Baker in the background, Toby told us that cranberries are a relatively low-maintenance plant and around this time of year they thrive in cooler temperatures, glowing even more ruby red at harvest time.
The cranberries in these bogs are for Ocean Spray but the Fort Wine Co. can hang onto a certain percentage for their wines and for freezing. They are just one of about eighty family-run farms in the co-op.
About BC Cranberries
I recently researched cranberries around the region for a piece I wrote for Tourism Vancouver and found all kinds of interesting facts:
- The cranberry is one of only three commercially-grown fruits that are native to North America.
- Traditionally, cranberries were hot trading commodities at Fort Langley (aka the Birthplace of BC) as local First Nations used them for food, dyes, and medicine. They would trade cranberries for HBC blankets, beads, and other items. In fact in 1858, cranberries were actually worth more than salmon.
- Of all the cranberries harvested in Canada every year, about 60% are grown for Massachusetts-based Ocean Spray, to which most BC cranberry growers belong as a cooperative — as a result 90% of BC cranberries are shipped to the USA.
- Approximately 50% of BC’s crop is used to make sweetened dried cranberries, 40% is made into juice, 9% is sold whole frozen and 1% is sold fresh, according to the Government of BC.
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The Fort Langley Cranberry Festival in the Village of Fort Langley and at the Fort Wine Co. will be a great way to spend the day with the family in the cool autumn air. Pick up some supplies for Thanksgiving dinner (including the Saucy Cranberry fortified wine) and enjoy these local berries, grown with care. You can also visit on your own as a part of the self-guided Circle Farm Tour at other times throughout the year.