CountryFest brings farmers, food and music together

people standing with cows
Children and teens escorted cows to a fenced area for people to see/Ayesha Ghaffar

A gravel parking lot right outside the Albion Fairgrounds was packed with cars. 

From there, golf carts were on standby to drop off people right in front of Planet Ice where the Lumberjack show was happening.  In that moment began the experience of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadow Country Fest 2022.

Read: What to expect at the MRPM CountryFest 2022

Despite the hot morning, people were gathering around to watch the spectacle of the show. 

The audience was introduced to different ways of cutting wood in a creative way as the two men competed against each other. 

man cuts through wood log
Lumberjack performer cutting through a log with an axe/Ayesha Ghaffar

Behind them, the flag parade started to proceed towards the fairgrounds where the rest of the fair was set up. 

The Eurofest flag parade included people dressed in traditional clothes and marching through the crowd, grabbing everyone’s attention, walking past long queues of ice cream and lemonade. 

people holding flags
People dressed traditional clothes with their respective country flags/Ayesha Ghaffar

The main stage was set for dance performances including the Diamond Country Dance group. An all-women group danced to country music.

women dancing
Diamond Country Dancers performing at the event/Ayesha Ghaffar

Several local organizations had set up tents but a few caught the public’s eye, including the Fraser Valley Pottery Guild which was introducing people to Raku pottery. 

Although they have existed since 1975, they were in Maple Ridge for the first time. 

pots for Raku
A wide selection of decoration clay items was available at the booth/Ayesha Ghaffar

“One of our members is from the farming community and she wanted to see if the organizers wanted us to be here. We are seeing people stop by because they are curious about what we’re doing here,” said Pat Schendel, fundraiser in-charge of the guild. 

Raku means pleasure and is a Japanese style of pottery, only used for decoration. It was first introduced in the 17th century by a Japanese family to make ceremonial ware. 

The final piece gets a chromatic effect because, in the red-hot kiln, the oxygen is burnt out leaving it with beautiful holographic shades.  

Raku pottery piece
Raku pottery leaves a chromatic finish on the clay/Ayesha Ghaffar

But they weren’t the only ones inviting people in. The Whonnock Weavers and Spinners Guild was set up next to the sheep shearer, showing people the steps after a sheep is sheared.

People of all ages were invited in to try out different steps of spinning and creating handmade crafts from wool. 

woman weaving wool
A new member was making handwoven bands that can be used as lanyards or a leash for pets/Ayesha Ghaffar

The guild was formed in 1974 and Marie Slessor, a member of the guild has been with them since 1979. Although none of their items were on sale, they have an annual exhibit before Christmas to sell handwoven items. 

wool being spun
A young girl learning about spinning wool at the Whonnock Weavers and Spinners Guild booth/Ayesha Ghaffar

Their 41st exhibit is on Sunday, November 27 at Whonnock Lake Centre. At the CountryFest, an area was dedicated to the Medieval Village, featuring booths from The Shire of Lionsdale, a society with people who play characters from the Middle Ages.

Dressed in costumes from the 16th century, and chosen names from the era, the setup provided opportunities for people to engage in armoured combat, enjoy calligraphy painting and see instruments from the time, too. 

armoured men fight
Members of the society participating in the armoured combat in the Medieval Village area/Ayesha Ghaffar

“We are at the CountryFest for the first time and I think it’s a great opportunity to share with others our hobbies. People are coming in because some have never heard about us while others have and they’re curious to learn more,” said Mary Kittle, event organizer (Middle ages name Desiree Charistella).

There were Llamas, different breeds of cows, sheep, rabbits and other farm animals for children and adults to learn about and interact with them.

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