Monthly Archives: August 2016

Are you ready for this?

Posted By Katie Kowalchuk
August 29, 2016

Last week, we polled our Facebook audience on what they were most looking forward to about this year’s Festival… Is it any surprise that food was at the top of the list?

Facebook Poll

And there’s a reason. From pie to perogies, to watermelon & rollkuchen, to farmer’s sausage on a bun, the Festival’s food area is bursting with delicious sights, smells and tastes. Caroline Doerksen, MCC Festival Food Coordinator for the last 5 years, gave me the low-down on what you can find each booth:

Vereniki: By far the most popular item at the festival, these cottage cheese perogies are smothered in a cream gravy and served with a side of barbecued Rempel’s farmer sausage. Be prepared to stand in line, but we won’t be the first to tell you it’s worth it!

Farmer Sausage on a Bun: The famous Rempel’s farmer sausage, barbecued and served on a freshly baked bun.

Borscht: Who doesn’t love a steaming bowl of homemade borscht!? It’s a Mennonite classic: beef, chicken and potatoes in a cabbage soup, served with a fresh bun.

Pork Roast BBQ Dinner: It’s the full meal deal, served with a baked potato, roasted vegetables and applesauce.

Samosas & Indian fare: Mennonite food is more than just German food – there are Mennonites all around the world! At this booth you’ll find samosas and butter chicken among other delicacies.

Egg Rolls: Handmade by our friends at the Western Hmong Mennonite Church.

Sushi: Authentic rolls from the Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship.

Bison Burgers: Seared to perfection and served on a fresh bun with all the fixin’s. *SEE NOTE BELOW!*

Chicken Nuggets & Fries: Fried to a crispy perfection.

Pizza: For the not so adventurous…

Watermelon & Rollkuchen: The ultimate Mennonite summer meal. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside deep fried pastry with slices of juicy watermelon. Are you drooling yet?

Pluma Moos: A traditional Mennonite festive fruit soup served cold. Trust us, it’s way better than it sounds!

Portzelky/Ollie Bollen/New Year’s Cookies: Call them what you like, they’re deep fried raisin fritters of deliciousness.

Bake Sale: Every treat you can think of, freshly prepared by members of our church community.

Pie and Ice Cream: Last but certainly not least, homemade pie and Birchwood ice cream. Why Birchwood? Because if you’re going to all the trouble of making a pie, you need to top it with the best local ice cream. Ice cream is also available by the cone.

So… you should probably come to the Festival wearing pants with an elastic waistband.

The 200 volunteers who staff these booths are “the unsung heroes of the festival,” Caroline told me. “Every volunteer is needed and we love having them work with us, from the dedicated ones who have been faithfully working for decades to the church youth groups, whose energy is admired.”

emmanuel youth group

We are still in need of a group to take on the Bison Burger booth. Do you know a youth group, community group, or family that would be up for taking this on? Please send an e-mail to Caroline at If we don’t have a group secured by next week, we’ll have to remove this yummy treat from our menu.

If you’ve never been to the Festival before, this year’s the time to be there! “It’s an adventure you need to experience,” says Caroline. “It’s what us Mennonites live for – food, family, friends, fellowship.”

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more exciting announcements leading up to the Festival!

Determined to Serve

Posted By Katie Kowalchuk
August 15, 2016

Here at the MCC BC office, we’re heading into the home stretch of preparations for the MCC Festival for World Relief, coming up on September 16 & 17.

A little while ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dora Hoeppner, our Relief Festival Coordinator. For the last 13 years, Dora has been pouring her heart and soul into this event.

Under her leadership, this event has more than doubled in size, and expanded from a community sale to a full-on festival. Not only that, “it’s become so much more than just an MCC event. It’s more like a family reunion.”

erwin and the park family- edited down

Attracting over 20,000 people from across the province over the course of just 24 hours, this weekend of food, fun and fundraising has grown to be one of Abbotsford’s biggest events.

Of course, it hasn’t always been like this.

In fact, when it all got started 47 years ago, it wasn’t so much a festival as a gathering. A group of people from the Mennonite community got together and decided they wanted to raise funds to support uprooted and vulnerable people around the world through Mennonite Central Committee’s work. So they used their skills to craft, sew, bake, grow, and harvest items they could sell to the community.

This “MCC Relief Sale” grew and grew until it became much more than a sale. It became a time to reunite with old friends, to show off one’s handiwork from the quilting room or the garden, and to hear about the amazing impact their fundraising had made since the previous year’s gathering.

As we sipped on our coffees, Dora told me stories of the unwaveringly dedicated volunteers she works with; the woman who comes in to clean the cafeteria trays, the man who makes over 400 hats by hand to sell each year, and the countless others, who, despite what’s going on in their lives, are “determined to serve” year after year.

IMG_7932After this year’s festival, Dora will be stepping down to pursue some of her other hobbies, like raising chickens and growing blackberries with her husband out in Chilliwack.

While she’s looking forward to this new chapter in her life, and seeing how the festival will continue to grow in the coming years, she’ll miss it. “What will I miss the most? The people. Definitely the people.”

We’ll have some big shoes to fill without her here at the office, and we want to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to Dora for her determination to serve. Dora has devoted countless hours to this event, and it wouldn’t be what it is today without her.

Look out for her smiling face at the Festival and help us say thanks to Dora for her years of service!

Stay tuned for more stories about the MCC Festival for World Relief! Don’t forget to RSVP to the Facebook event here, and be sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest behind-the-scenes pics.