Citing ongoing challenges with government policy, nominal local brewery support, and regulatory issues with the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission and the City of Abbotsford, BC Hop Company recently announced that they’ve canceled BC Hop Fest this year. The annual event, which takes place in late September or early October each year, is being temporarily suspended but not permanently canceled. At least not yet.
The founder and lead organizer of the sold-out annual event, BC Hop Company, also emphasized the struggling hop farmers’ need for more support from the provincial government and the British Columbia craft beer industry as the catalyst for this years’ suspension.
“We have some great customers and relationships and we know the festival has a big following so we’re sorry it won’t be happening this year,” said Dwayne Stewart, co-owner, BC Hop Company and Co-found
“We’re a small company and invest significant time and resources into this event to support and promote local hops. To move forward with this festival in future years as we hope, we need to ensure local hop farming is viable, and the event truly profiles and showcases brewers who support B.C. hop farmers year-round.”
There are about 20 hop farmers currently remaining in British Columbia., down from over 30 only a year ago. B.C. hop farmers provide local jobs and contribute to the local economy directly and indirectly. Without support, this trend will continue and hop farming will disappear in B.C.
“We are asking industry and government to work with us to make growing hops in B.C. viable given the growth of the B.C. craft brewery sector. BC Hop Company and hop farmers create sustainable local jobs, support our local economy and community and grow hops that help create some exceptional 100% local B.C. craft beers,” said Stewart. “We think B.C. beer lovers expect and deserve to enjoy local hops when they support their local brewery.”
Event organizers say that the “BC Hop Festival” has been held successfully on a working hop farm in Abbotsford every year since 2015. It now faces regulatory hurdles with the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and the City of Abbotsford. With up to 1,500 attendees annually, the ALC has advised it considers the one-day festival too large for a farm or “agri-tourism” event. The ALC further stated that the event does not specifically sell hops from the farm directly to festival attendees. While BC Hop Company does not make beer, the festival promotes beer and other products made from hops grown on local farms. Showcasing locally crafted beers made from locally grown hops supports B.C.’s economy, tourism and local pride.
BC Hop Company adds: Even if these regulatory permit challenges could be addressed quickly, it’s now too late in the season to stage the volunteer-based event in 2019.