Multicultural celebration: AbbyFest now in its fifth year

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the event in Abbotsford on Sept. 15.

The annual AbbyFest Multicultural Festival is set for Sept. 15 at the Ag-Rec Building in Abbotsford. Booth

The annual AbbyFest Multicultural Festival is set for Sept. 15 at the Ag-Rec Building in Abbotsford. Booth

Organizers of AbbyFest are expecting the event to draw more than 5,000 people to their multicultural event on Saturday.

Now in its fifth year, founder Musleh Hakki said the event has shown steady growth, and there will once again be more entertainment, more food, and more booths for presenters – all with a theme of sharing diversity.

“Building bridges, bringing communities together,” is the theme of the event, set in one of the most culturally diverse cities in Canada.

Abbotsford/Mission has the third highest proportion of visible minorities among Canada’s census metropolitan areas, behind only the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver areas.

The main stage at the Ag-Rec Building (32470 Haida Dr.) will feature eight hours of non-stop entertainment, mostly singing and dancing from a variety of groups including Indian Bhangra dancers, Tribalieez Mexican dancers, Middle Eastern belly dancers, and other entertainment from Israel, Hungary, Ghana, the Phillipines and more.

There will be more than 60 flags in the parade of nations that opens the event at 10 a.m., and there will be more than 60 booths.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast will both address the crowd during the opening ceremonies.

Among the highlights of this year’s event will be a lantern festival, led by the Royal Canadian Legion at 6 p.m., followed by a laser light show. The University of the Fraser Valley will present an international fashion show at 1 p.m.

Ethnic food is always a main attraction at AbbyFest, and Hakki says people will be enticed by Slavic rolls, butter chicken and Italian pasta dishes.

Perhaps attracted by the “building bridges” theme, the Port Mann Bridge Authority will attend this year’s event, to tell the public how the toll system for the new bridge will operate.

Admission is free.

For a complete schedule or more information visit: abbyfest.com.