Chilliwack already has a beer festival, a wine festival, and distillery festival — and now there’s a cider festival.
The inaugural Fraser Valley Cider Festival is set for this Saturday, April 1, at Tzeachten Hall and organizer Patti Lawn says it will be a fun, entertaining and cozy evening.
It’s also a fundraiser for the Chilliwack Community Arts Council.
“This is a far more intimate event. It’s not super big. I think it’s nice to have an intimate event so you can actually talk to people and enjoy,” says Lawn, executive director of the Chilliwack Community Arts Council. “It’s a fun thing to do and the craft cider world is a little different than craft beers and the wine industry.”
Some of the cideries that will be at the festival have been around for a very long time — nearly a century. She says ciders are different than beers and wines because it was a natural progression for farmers to take their abundance of apples, pears and other fruits, and turn it into cider.
“Apple pressing — creating apple juice — has been around for a very, very long time. So to do that next step, to create the cider alcoholic beverage, they probably thought ‘what else can we do with this?’”
There will be 11 cideries, plus one winery and one craft brewery at the Fraser Valley Cider Festival. They include: Left Field, Twisted Hills, Gabbie’s, BC Tree Fruits, Fraser Valley Cider, Howling Moon, Ward’s, Sea Cider Farm, Dominion, Lonetree, and Faustino’s; plus blueberry fruit winery Ripples Estate Winery, and Chilliwack’s Chaos and Solace.
With a variety of different flavours of ciders from each maker, plus a fruity blueberry wine, and a few light beers, there will be a nice range of tastes to try.
“I think people really appreciate the hand crafted part of it. That’s what’s interesting about the whole market is that you’re really testing your palette, and you’re thinking about what you like.”
It’s interesting to note that the cideries don’t pay to come to the festival.
“They want to share what they’re doing,” says Lawn. “The cideries, they’re quite small. Sometimes they close down for the winter season because of their production — they can’t continue. The batches are small and they do run out, that’s what’s so interesting about them.”
Most of the products at the Fraser Valley Cider Festival are not available at BC Liquor Stores, rather you have to buy directly from the cidery. Because of that, there will be a lot of ciders being poured on April 1 that folks have never tried.
And just like you-brew beers and homemade wines, the cider industry offers the same.
“The one that’s closest to us, Fraser Valley Cider Co., they do a thing in the fall where you bring your apples to them. They press them and you get back what they’ve pressed. So it’s a really unique industry, and it’s the next up-and-coming one.”
Tickets to the festival include three drink-tasting tokens, plus extra tasting tokens can also be purchased. All of the money from the extra tokens will be divided between the arts council and the cideries.
“The arts are always underfunded and we always have to do fundraising,” says Lawn.
Their biggest fundraiser is the Christmas Craft Market, but they realized they needed to come up with another one.
“We thought this is a really good combination of what people like to do: enjoy good music, good food and try something different,” says Lawn. “We’re getting good response and we’re getting people interested, and it’s something that will grow.”
In addition to the ciders, there will also be food by two Chilliwack companies: Curly Kale Eatery and The Clean Plate Catering.
People will be entertained by the music of Irish duo Murphy’s Lagh with Damian Brennan on guitar and Jennie Bice on fiddle.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful, fun evening. People will have a good time, it’s going to feel comfortable like going to a house party. I think it will be a success and I think we will all want to do it again,” says Lawn.
The Fraser Valley Cider Festival is Saturday, April 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Tzeachten Hall. Tickets $35 (include three tasting tokens). Additional tasting tokens are $2 each. Designated driver tickets are $10 and include non-alcoholic drinks, food, and entertainment.
Tickets can be purchased at chilliwackartscouncil.com, or at the Arts Council office (20-5725 Vedder Rd.). More info: 604-769-2787.