Dancers from the Sada Virsa Sada Gaurav Bhangra Club entertain fans at last year’s Vaisakhi Track and Field Festival. This year’s event runs on Friday and Saturday at Rotary Stadium.  John Morrow/Abbotsford News

Dancers from the Sada Virsa Sada Gaurav Bhangra Club entertain fans at last year’s Vaisakhi Track and Field Festival. This year’s event runs on Friday and Saturday at Rotary Stadium. John Morrow/Abbotsford News

Vaisakhi Track and Field Festival back for third year

Abbotsford-based cultural celebration and track event expands to two days for 2019

The third annual Vaisakhi Festival Track and Field Meet hosted by the Valley Royals returns to Abbotsford this weekend, and the 2019 edition of the event will prove to be its biggest yet.

The event is a fusion of Western athletic track & field events and East-Indian/Punjabi athletic demonstrations, dance and authentic cultural foods. This meet attracts track and field athletes from clubs across the Lower Mainland as well as novice athletes from the Abbotsford area who are interested in giving track & field a try.

The meet expands to a two-day festival this year, with hammer throw and discus events occurring on Friday starting at 4 p.m. Saturday sees running and field events take over Rotary Stadium, with pole vault making its first ever appearance at the event.

Saturday offerings include: hurdles, javelin and short and long distance running races. Saturday morning kicks off with a 90-minute BC Athletics free training seminar starting at 8:30 a.m. for people wanting to become Level 1 Track and Field Officials. Morning races and field events start at 10 a.m. and at 11:55 a.m. the Lollipop Race for all children eight and under will serve as a prelude to the opening ceremonies at noon.

The opening ceremony will feature Bhangra Dance and a demonstration of the Indian-style martial art of Gatka. From 1 to 4 p.m. all in attendance are welcome to enjoy a free traditional Vaisakhi Langar Lunch. Track and Field events run all afternoon until clean-up time at 4 p.m.

The Valley Royals have also invited athletes from Special Olympics to participate again in this year’s Vaisakhi Track & Field events. Athletes will demonstrate mini-javelin – a throws event that is unique to SO which uses a practice javelin (originally designed to serve as a safely-tipped practice implement). SO athletes will be integrated into many of the races and field events as well as having a few races that have distances that are specific to SO.

Athlete registration to participate in the event must be done online before April 10, and information on how to register can be found at valleyroyals.ca.

Highlights from last year’s event – Video by: Joshua Watkins/Black Press