Vereniki, prozelky, worldly deeds draw thousands to MCC Festival for World Relief

Vereniki, prozelky, worldly deeds draw thousands to MCC Festival for World Relief

Thousands of people flock to the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Festival for World Relief at Tradex, not only to contribute to the organization’s response to basic human needs and world peace and justice in more than 60 countries, but to enjoy camaraderie and to savour plates of mouth-watering food.

Lineups for delicious
The lineups for vereniki can be long because the cottage-cheese filled perogies are a staple that no one can say no to and the aroma at Tradex is almost hypnotizing. One year the sale went through 25,000 vereniki, 750 pounds of farmer sausage and so many porzelky (raisin dumplings) that it took 800 pounds of flour and 400 pounds of raisins to make them.


Dora Hoeppner, relief sale coordinator, and her husband George mark their 14th year with the fundraiser this year. “It’s a great, fun event, and we have a huge attendance. It has something for all ages . . . arts and craft sales, auctions, activities just for children and of course the delicious food,” said Dora.

On Sept. 16-17 it will be the couple’s MCC auction and relief sale farewell, one that comes with sweet sadness.

MCC operates scores of relief sales across North America, and Abbotsford’s is one of the biggest and most generously supported.

When is a loaf of bread worth a quarter million dollars?
Dora said the traditional and symbolic auctioning of a loaf of bread has hit a high of $250,000 over the years from a multitude of combined bidders. An auction of handcrafted quilts also garners a lot of financial support.

The two-day event at Tradex, including fundraisers and dinners held earlier in the year, raised a record of $856,000.

“Why do I do it?  Most compelling for me and my husband is the cause, the work of MCC and the tremendous amount of relief and development around the world,” said Dora, who is happy to hand the committee work to successor Hannah Toews “who is already on staff at MCC.”

“It’s time for a fresh vision, young energy,” said Dora, adding that the Tradex staff has been phenomenal. They are helpful and go beyond the call of duty.

He saved our bacon—literally
She fondly remembers the panic one year when the MCC team started unpacking some rented chafing dishes that keep things like rice, farmer sausage and samosas hot. “We soon discovered they did not come with the required inserts. We were worried, but Bill Tavares, our event manager at Tradex came through. He got them from Tradex’s own kitchen and literally saved our bacon.”

The relief sale and auction moved to Tradex in 2002 after it outgrew the Abbotsford Agrifair grounds. The event was launched 47 years ago in Chilliwack.

This year there is a large silent auction component and many items will be packages, including ski trips and stays at bed and breakfasts.

Dora and George own a hobby farm in Chilliwack . . . “so we won’t be just sitting around in 2017. I wouldn’t want to do the festival without him,” she said.

But don’t be surprised if the tempting aromas at Tradex bring the retired couple back again next year, not to work but just for a little “sampling.”

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