A sold-out crowd of more than 220 people were at the Reach Saturday night, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Abbotsford News.
The gala event featured a special gourmet dinner created by Chef Michael Dicks of Culinary Touch Catering.
A silent auction also took place as well as guest speakers, a video presentation and an overview of some of the major stories covered by the News in recent years.
One of the highlights of the night was the work of artist Yared Nigussu.
Nigussu specializes in producing artwork on demand and created a piece which was later auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Karina Chow, director of development at the Reach, said the event looks to be a big success.
“We have a nice cross-section of our community here,” she said.
Guests include representatives from city council and the school district, as well as business and other agencies, including the University of the Fraser Valley, the Indo-Canadian Business Association, members of the Crystal Gala and more.
News publisher Andrew Franklin said the turnout has surpassed his expectations, but it does show the impact local newspapers still have.
“Community newspapers have always played a great role in communicating with the mass local audience,” said Franklin.
“Today, although the media landscape has changed, The News reader franchise has simply expanded across multiple platforms enabling us to extend our overall reach beyond the city boundaries. The newspaper continues to be relied upon by the mass local audience for local content and information.”
Saturday’s event marked the end of an exhibit which helped chronicle the history of the paper and the community.
Called Our Communities Our Stories: Making News, Making History, the show opened in June, focusing on the newspaper’s 90 years of reporting. The display consists of old newspapers, election campaign signs and printing devices as well as a collection of items that help bring the past 90 years to life.
“It is with great pride that in my position of publisher at The Abbotsford News I am privileged to act as the steward of one of Canada’s leading community newspapers during its 90th anniversary year. Tonight, culminates with a celebration here at The Reach Gallery Museum, hosts of the Making News Making History gala. We very much look forward to serving residents of the city for years to come,” said Franklin.
As part of the evening’s celebrations, News editor Andrew Holota gave a short presentation, reviewing some of the stories covered in the pages of the paper. They include the public battle against the proposed Sumas Energy plant (SE2) and the more recent features on the drug ecstasy which claimed several young lives in the community.
A new art work was also revealed during the gala. The work, by artist Brian Croft, is called Abbotsford 1922 and depicts life in the city as it would have looked 90 years ago. Croft donated the canvas to The Reach, but will also make a limited number of prints for sale.
Tonight’s gala event was made possible in part by the sponsorship of Hank and Elaine Funk, owners of Cap-it.
A talented artist in his own right, Funk has been a long-time supporter of the arts and The Reach.
While final figures are not yet available, proceeds from tonight’s event will go to support The Reach Gallery Museum.