JENNA HAUCK/ THE PROGRESS Richard Procee is one of the organizers of the inaugural Chilliwack Barbecue and Corn Fest. It runs July 29 and 30 at Prospera Centre.

Chilliwack corn at centrepiece of celebration

Corn, barbecue and entertainment lined up for first festival

It’s just not summer without fresh-from-the-farm Chilliwack corn on the cob.

Whether you like it slathered in butter, sprinkled with salt or simply as it is, corn is a summertime staple. Local aficianados even know the exact variety they prefer, and wait patiently for the roadside sellers for that picked-fresh produce.

It’s such a mainstay, you’d think there would be a way to celebrate it.

Well, now there is. The first ever ‘BBQ and Corn Fest’ takes place July 29 and 30 at Prospera Centre. The event is being planned by Glen Ringdal and Richard Procee, with musical entertainment planned by Trevor McDonald.

The idea began when Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic took a trip back east and attended a rib fest. He came back and suggested Chilliwack get something going, too.

“It sounded like a good idea,” Ringdal said. “They are ridiculously successful, and it struck us that Chilliwack is known for its corn but there doesn’t seem to be a celebration of it.”

So, they decided to pair up a corn festival with its best accompaniment — a barbecue. And all the food and drinks being offered up are even more locally-loved flavours. The BBQ and Corn Fest will feature salmon and traditional bannock from Cheam Trading Post, finger-licking-good baby back ribs and pulled pork sandwiches from Johnston’s Pork, and organic chicken from Fraser Valley Specialty Organic Chicken.

Richard Procee, owner of Hofstede’s Country Barn will be featuring Chilliwack corn, in a partnership with Joiner’s Corn. He’s excited for the weekend and what it could do for corn and other local products. First years are tough, because it’s hard to know how many people will show.

There is no cost to enter, so there are no tickets to track. But Ringdal says they are aiming for about 5,000 over the whole weekend.

“We won’t know until we try,” adds Procee. He is looking to long-running successful events like the Harrison Festival of the Arts. They started out small, and have managed to get pull in bigger crowds over the years.

“That took years to develop,” he says. “It all depends on the long-term thinking. What vision do we have, what do we want.”

And what they want is to celebrate corn, while providing a laid back and friendly atmosphere. Think of it like a backyard barbecue, only on a larger scale. A plate of barbecue, including meat, corn, baked beans and coleslaw, will cost $15, while a pulled pork sandwich will be $10.

There will likely be pulled pork for people to purchase for home, and if they have a lot of leftovers it will be put to good use. And at the helm of the ‘cue will be BBQ master Rusty Johnson.

Johnson has represented Canada on the International Stage of BBQ multiple times. He’s travelled all over North America honing his craft and has perfected the ultimate BBQ flavours. Rusty currently resides in Port Moody with his wife and two small children. Rusty can be seen from time to time on Global TV and currently has commercials running for Save-on Foods.

It’s bound to be a good dish of food, with credentials like that.

“Maybe we’ll run out of food early,” Ringdal says. “And if we end up with some at the end of the night we’ll give it a good home at the Salvation Army.”

And what’s a barbecue without a cold drink?

Ringdal is pleased that they were able to bring a few local breweries on board. There will be local beer products, B.C. wines, and soft drinks, along with ice cream for desserts. What there won’t be is an old-style beer garden. Barbecue lovers will be able to stroll around the gated event, and enjoy a glass of beer or wine with their family or friends.

And if this sunny weather doesn’t hold up, the event will go on inside Prospera.

Other activities are planned throughout the weekend. With Trevor McDonald managing the music, there will be a different act on stage every hour. Saturday will feature Exit 123, Full Monkey, Lounge Hounds, Full Tilt, Orion, Chill Billies and Stiletto. Sunday will see Angus Drive, Rockabilly Jay, Horse Power, Judy Tuesday, One Night Stand, Damian Marshall Band and Soundscape.

And for the little ones, there will be visits from the likes of Rapunzel, the Frog Princess, the Snow Queen and more, as Ever After Princess stroll through the grounds. They’ve also planned a farmers’ market, face painting, games to play, and public booths for organizations, like the Chilliwack Chiefs.

“There’s going to be lots of different games for young and old to play,” Ringdal says. “Between all of that it’s worth a couple hours for a family, or for couples or even individuals.”

Mayor Sharon Gaetz will be on hand for an opening ceremony around noon on the Saturday, followed by First Nation dancers.

The Chilliwack BBQ and Corn Fest runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on July 29 and 30, in the east parking lot of Prospera Centre.

 

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