Food, fun and flight: The Abbotsford Airshow is a food lover’s dream come true
The food truck scene in British Columbia is growing. It was reported in 2015 that there were more than 305 food trucks in Metro Vancouver and Victoria alone, bringing in roughly $50 million a year.
The fascination with street food has accelerated in recent years, giving rise to numerous food truck festivals in the province. One of the biggest and most varied is the Abbotsford International Airshow’s festival which runs from Aug. 9 to 11 at the Abbotsford International Airport.
“It’s a food festival with an airshow backdrop,” says Jim Reith, president of the 52nd annual show. It’s the largest festival of its kind in Lower Mainland and features more than 40 vendors. This year, Reith expects approximately 150,000 visitors over the three-day event.
“It really is a great food fest. We have incredible choice [all] around the grounds,” says Reith.
The food truck phenomenon at the Abbotsford Airshow began about 20 years ago. Before that, the airshow, which was established in 1966, provided food for its patrons through numerous contributions from clubs and a few food trucks that dished out fare like fries and hot dogs.
Food options became more sophisticated in recent years as the trend towards food on wheels exploded in the mid-2000s.
According to the Competition Bureau, which called for increased food truck presence in Canadian cities, food trucks were growing more popular than ever in 2018. There were more than 2,200 mobile food service operators across Canada anticipated to bring in more than $300 million.
That growing popularity is certainly reflected at the airshow this year, says Reith. “We keep trying to bring in more variety and try new things.”
On the menu
For the 2019 event, venders will be serving up everything from mini-doughnuts and ice cream to trucks featuring more exotic downtown Vancouver cuisine.
“It’s got elements for everyone. The [Fraser] Valley crowd is very traditional. They want hamburgers and hot dogs, but in addition, we have [options] from downtown Vancouver, like Jamaican Mi Juicy (Jamaican smoothies and jerk chicken) and JapaDog, which is very popular in downtown Vancouver.”
JapaDog serves gourmet hot dogs with a Japanese spin. The food truck is known for specialities like spicy cheese Terimayo and Ebi Tempura. Another Vancouver favourite present at the airshow is Triple O’s burger. Their secret sauce is a fan favourite.
Anthony Cross, who owns Jamaican Mi Juicy, says the Abbotsford Airshow is one of his favourite food festivals. He’s been attending the show for nearly 10 years.
“We’ve found that there are a lot of good trucks here representing a lot of different cultures. There are many that are very unique –very different.”
He adds that the airshow vibe is relaxed, fun and family friendly. “I love it,” he simply says.
This year, there are numerous other ways to take part in the culinary side of the airshow. Patrons can purchase tickets to upgraded premium experiences, including the President’s Club, which will allow them to watch the airshow in a luxury setting. This ticket gets you into a garden patio setting with premium runway access. Guests can also enjoy chef-inspired catering and gourmet snacks with complimentary bar service while they watch the events.
Attendees can take in the stunts and thrills from the comfort of the adults-only Flight Club, which features patio-style seating, catered lunch by Brown’s Socialhouse and two beverages.
Meanwhile, families can take advantage of a place just for them. Family Club access offers you a place to skip the lineups and sit together in shaded umbrella seating, while enjoying complimentary beverages and kids’ activities.
Along with the food fare, this year’s airshow also features 14 acres of attractions and entertainment, from S.T.E.M. Exhibits for children to a kid zone including experiments, bouncy castles, fireworks and a hot air balloon display on Friday night.
“We have continued to get bigger and better every year,” Reith says.
Plan your trip to the Abbotsford International Airshow and food truck festival by visiting the website or app, by telephone at 604-259-7636, or at your nearby Save-On-Foods location. (Early Bird pricing available until July 31.)