Photo/Katrina Grabowski

The eating tables are packed with friends and families of all ages, from open to close.

Over 20,000 people attended the annual MCC British Columbia Festival for World Relief September 15 & 16 at the Abbotsford TRADEX which raised over $1 million to support Mennonite Central Committee’s relief, development, and peace work locally and around the world. Last year’s festival hit this same target for the first time in the event’s history making it the largest amount raised by any of the 38 MCC festivals held across North America.

The annual Bread of Life auction, which raises funds for food security projects, contributed over $230,000 to the festival’s fundraising total. This year these donations will support food security projects in Kenya which will assist over 9,000 households. 123 riders of all ages and abilities took part in the Saturday morning Pedaling for Hope cyclathon which raised over $220,000 in support of maternal and newborn health initiatives in Afghanistan. The remaining funds that contributed to the $1M were raised through food, craft, and booth sales as well as other fundraising efforts held at the two-day festival and will support MCC’s work with refugees all around the world. 

Farmer's sausage and vereniki is the most popular food item of the weekend, bringing in almost $30,000!Photo/Katrina Grabowski

“The Festival has such a rich history and it’s always encouraging to see many volunteers working to make it happen,” says Wayne Bremner, Executive Director of MCC British Columbia. “It’s a reflection of the generosity of the Mennonite community here in the Fraser Valley and an affirmation that MCC continues to be trusted to help people who are facing conflict, poverty, and disasters”. 

The Abbotsford Festival for World Relief, which started in 1970, has grown to become a must-attend event for many in the Fraser Valley each September. Over 1,200 volunteers helped cook and serve a variety of foods, from Mennonite classics like farmers sausage and vereniki to international flavours from some of the 56 countries where MCC is currently engaged in relief, development, and peacemaking work. In addition, volunteers managed craft booths, silent and live auctions, a kids area and more. 

Over 1,200 volunteers of all ages help make the Festival possible. Photo/Katrina Grabowski

“MCC is as busy as ever, with floods in south Asia, hurricanes in the Caribbean, food crises in parts of Africa and the ongoing refugee response in the Middle East as well as other lesser known regions,” says Scott Campbell, Advancement Director for MCC British Columbia. “The money raised at this year’s festival will go a long way, but much more is needed.”