Abbotsford shows off cultural side

Abbotsford is getting ready for the city's biggest cultural celebration, Culture Days, to be held this Friday to Sunday.

Abbotsford is stepping into the cultural ring full force this year with the biggest Culture Days celebration the city has seen. The free three-day festival will be held Friday to Sunday (Sept. 27-29) at various sites around town.

“All the events are participatory – learn to dance, behind-the-scenes looks, learn to drum, make public art – as opposed to just watch,” said Tamaka Fisher, the city’s arts and heritage coordinator.

There will be 24 hands-on events by 16 organizations and performers that promise to draw residents into the heart of the arts community.

Although Abbotsford participated in the national Culture Days phenomenon last year, this is the celebration’s true stepping out “on a huge scale,” said Fisher. The city is taking the lead in organizing, and has lined up a whirlwind cultural tour that will keep children and adults entertained through the weekend.

This includes interactive public art displays, open theatre rehearsals, participatory swing dances, bhangra dance lessons, watercolour painting workshops, and Gur Sikh temple tours.

Sure to please the kids are improv and free ice cream sundae sessions, and storytelling.

For those wanting a more cerebral experience, the “Culture Under Construction” forum will question the business of culture and the role of public art.

And a local historian will explore Abbotsford’s forgotten railway, the Great Northern Railway (1909– 1929), on Sept. 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the MSA Museum Society (2313 Ware Street.)

The idea is to inspire the community to invite cultural activities into their daily lives.

“We’re trying to promote culture as an everyday habit,” said Fisher.

One event generating interest is the city’s effort to unite as many Abby residents as possible in a giant “I love Abbotsford” photo shoot. On Saturday, Sept. 28, at noon sharp, residents should show up at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium wearing either an “I love Abbotsford” t-shirt, or a red or white shirt, to be part of what the city calls a “historic” photo shoot. Shirts will also be on sale for $5.

There will be 7,000 Culture Days events nation-wide that weekend.

“It’s uniting the country as well as the community through culture,” said Fisher of the Abbotsford events.

The full schedule is