Show & Shine brings Japadog to New West

Cult Vancouver eatery Japadog is bringing a food truck to New Westminster for the Key West Ford Show & Shine on Sunday, July 8. The event is 10am - 6pm in Downtown New West on Columbia Street.

When I started with the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association back in December, there were lots of familiar faces, projects, and issues. Of course a lot has changed since I worked for the BIA the first time around, but many things remained the same as well.

One big thing that hasn’t changed is that the BIA produces the largest event in New West – the Key West Ford Show & Shine. 100,000 people and 300 cars come out every year on the second Sunday of July to Columbia Street. Pretty amazing when you think about it, out of our small two person BIA office, supported by fantastic contractors and volunteers, we pull off this huge event annually.

My first reaction to the planning process was that not much had changed: the same faces, the same task lists, the same processes. Time to switch things up a bit. However I was reminded that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Fair enough. When you have 12 years of previous successful Show & Shines under your belt then I’ll trust you on that one!

So our strategy was to tweak and upgrade. What we have works, it’s just time for a little update.

To that end, we focused on forming more partnerships with organizations and businesses that would add an element of interactivity to the show. The biggest and most obvious update is partnering with Key West Ford, but we also went about forming a partnership with the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation to offer a 50/50 draw in celebration of their 150 years of service in New West. We brought in the new Bosley’s at Columbia Square Plaza to offer a “Pet Lounge” – Karima, the owner, will set up an actual lounge for your furry friends with cool beds, water, ice pops, and stylin’ giveaways like bandanas.

And we collaborated with the West Coast College of Massage Therapy, using the beautiful courtyard space at 611 Columbia Street to create the West Coast Wellness and Living Oasis – a sanctuary with mini spa services and shopping geared towards the ladies who attend.

But there was one thing I was focused on from the start. I wanted cool food vendors. With the recent additions of Chronic Tacos and Re-Up BBQ to Downtown New West we didn’t have to go very far to get a good start.

But, I wanted something bigger. I thought, what was the most high profile street food vendor in the Lower Mainland? Who has promotional power? What food cart would people travel to get to? Be willing to line up at? Clearly, it had to be Japadog.

Yep, I wanted Japadog. And I really had no idea how challenging that would be, but I was determined. I started the way anyone would, I googled them to try and find a phone number. Nope, no luck. I called a few contacts, was given a phone number that was basically a voicemail. Left messages, emailed them. Again, no luck.

Then I hired a very industrious and equally determined Summer Student Ambassador, Tia Dalupang, who wanted this as much I did. I won’t tell you how she did it, but after much time and effort she brought me a cell phone number. An actual direct line to someone, yay!

Lo and behold, I called Hideki, Catering Manager of Japadog who himself is a car buff. Lucky. All the planets and stars lined up and after some negotiating (and ok, maybe some pleading on my part) I got them. Japadog, for the first time, will come to New West.

So, after all our hard work, I hope that it pays off and that many of you are Japadog fans! Or perhaps you have never had the opportunity to try them out yet, well that opportunity has arrived and I hope you’ll come down to the Key West Ford Show & Shine on Sunday for a taste!

Kendra Johnston is the Executive Director of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association

What are you losing if you don’t vote Nov. 19?

Limited edition Tenth to the Fraser buttons, reading "I Voted" and "Spoiled Ballot." Buttons pressed by
Limited edition Tenth to the Fraser buttons, reading "I Voted" and "Spoiled Ballot." Buttons pressed by

Remember that scene in “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan is explaining to Greg Kinnear why they should break up? She confesses to him that during the last election she went for a manicure and forgot to vote. That’s right, went for a manicure, and forgot to vote. Apparently this is more common that I would have thought as 75% of New Westminster’s population didn’t vote in the last election – were they at the spa?

Or perhaps they didn’t think the candidates they liked had any chance of winning, they didn’t do their research and had no idea who to vote for, or there were simply too many candidates to choose from. Maybe they don’t care about local issues, or they weren’t registered and couldn’t find their ID? There are a lot of reasons not to vote I suppose from simply forgetting to being too lazy on a rainy day.

Many people I talk to around the Lower Mainland haven’t given this election much thought yet, there are only a select few who have really been involved enough to read up, interact with candidates, attend debates, and monitor social media. Most will make their decisions based on who showed up at their door and what their campaign literature looked like, that is if they remember to go to the polls on Saturday at all.

So what’s going to get people out to vote? I thought about what incentives could be offered, maybe doughnuts or even beer. Would you show up to vote for a beer? What if the City offered everyone who showed up to vote an entry into a contest for cash? Or a $1000 credit on your property taxes? Free electricity for a year?

Nope, that would be a disaster. Imagine how many spoiled ballots there would be from jokers who really didn’t care in the first place and just wanted the free beer and doughnuts. Plus you’d have to apply for a special event liquor license, which if any of you have ever attempted know what a pain in the ass that is!

So, back to the drawing board. But let’s get serious about this. Why not attack this from another angle – what are you LOSING if you don’t vote?

If you don’t vote this election, I don’t want to hear a peep out of you for the next three years. I mean it, nothing: no complaints, no comments, no suggestions, NOTHING. In my eyes you will have lost the right to be invested in your community at all. If you find yourself wanting to gripe about recycling collection, traffic on Columbia Street or the price of ice skating at Moody Park, stop yourself. That’s right, you’re not allowed to say a thing, because you didn’t take the time to vote.

We are a community, New West consists of us. We have the power to affect change through the simple act of voting Saturday. And in a small community like ours every vote counts even more. There are lots of great resources on, so no excuse not to do your research.

Want the right to complain? Then pony up! VOTE!

Helpful links on election day:

You may also want to check out the following links for more information on the candidates:

New home decor store Sonse Home Design opens in Uptown New West

Sonse Home Design.
Sonse Home Design.

I heard about Sonse Home Design from Sheila Keenan whom I follow on Twitter (she writes a great blog about shopping locally in New West) a week or so ago. Promptly forgot about it, but caught a glimpse of Sonse today as I exited London Drugs and decided I’d better check it out before I forgot again!

It just opened a few weeks ago and the place looks amazing. Walking in, I experienced an immediate feeling of calm, sensed friendly energy and was drawn into her colourful and thoughtful staging. Joanne greeted me with a warm smile and friendly conversation.

We got to talking, and it turns out this is Joanne’s first foray into the retail rat race, but she’s got over 15 years of decorating experience in the television industry so she’s well equipped with design chops and her enthusiasm and knowledge shines through during our conversation. Clearly she’s a great resource, not to mention has a talented eye for the aesthetic, and offers staging, redecorating, room planning and holiday decorating services to support her retail location at 544 6th Street.

Sonse (pronounced son-say) is full of beautiful finds. Having just redecorated my home office in a cottage shabby shic style attempt, I was on the lookout for a few knick knacks and I hit the jackpot here! My budget is pretty weak, but I found some pretty seashells and may go back for gorgeous patterned wallpaper which I’ll frame as an inexpensive art option.

I’m glad I stopped by. Oh – and she’s been a New West resident for more than five years and couldn’t imagine opening a storefront anywhere else! Happy to support local shopping!

Find Sonse Home Design on Twitter or Facebook, or call 604-522-3377.

Fireworks viewing party at La Perla

Hyack Fireworks Poster
Hyack Festival Opening Celebration Poster

Change is good. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for tradition, but it’s nice to switch things up once in a while! And that’s exactly what Hyack is doing this year with the 40th Annual Opening Celebration of the Hyack Festival.

There have always been fireworks, at least always in my recent memory, as the big kick off to the annual Festival, but we’ve seen some changes in recent years with a location further down river. This weekend, the Fireworks barge is moving across from the River Market, and the Hyack Festival Association is hosting a fabulous viewing party from La Perla, the new banquet space.

When I worked at the Riverboat Casino, which used to be a great vantage point for the fireworks, I always looked forward to the Hyack Festival Fireworks weekend. The vibe was so energizing, people lining the boardwalk, music wafting in the air, and guests lining the rails of the Riverboat in anticipation of the big show. I always thought that once the Casino moved to a new location the best place to see them would be from that second floor space of the Market. I’m excited to find out if I’m right! Inside La Perla you’ll find plenty of appetizers, live music, dancing and an exclusive view of the main show.

La Perla
La Perla

Of course many will gather on the boardwalk and the parkade to join in the fun too. See you there!

Event details:

  • Saturday, May 21st: Hyack Festival Fireworks
  • Fireworks at 10pm
  • Tickets are $25 each or 2 for $40 for the LaPerla viewing party between 8pm and midnight
  • Call Hyack at 604.522.6894 for more details

A Girl’s guide to preparing for the Army & Navy Shoe Sale

This year's Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Handout photo.
This year's Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Handout photo.

The Army & Navy Shoe Sale is always a sure sign of spring. It brings back memories of our annual shopping excursions to the New West store when I was a kid. When my sister and I were young, Mom started the tradition of annual shoe shopping, just us girls, wide eyed at the rows upon rows of shoes, so many options it was overwhelming.

We had to learn the best strategies early on. With that many shoppers and that many shoes you can’t just walk in and leisurely browse! So here are a few tips to navigate the sale, from one shoe-shopper to another.

  • You’ve gotta line up. Bring coffee, dress for the weather and get there a bit early. This way you can size up your fellow shoppers and get into the spirit of the sale.
  • Know what you are looking for. Do you need sandals for a summer wedding? Pumps for work? It’s overwhelming when you first get in there, wall to wall people, and way too many shoes to count. Survey what you’ve got before you go and have an idea of what you need/want this season.
  • If you see something you like, grab it! Get your hands on the right size and pick up whatever looks good. You can find a corner later and cull through your finds to make the final decision.
  • Put on each pair and walk around for a while, we all know that we won’t wear them if they hurt no matter how pretty they are.
  • Bring a friend. It’s an extra pair of arms to carry your finds, and extra pair of eyes to bring you back down to earth.

One last thing, be patient and polite. No need to elbow your way through: remember, shoe karma is the best kind!

This year’s Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Army & Navy is also launching a “Shoes in the City” photo contest this week on their Facebook page where you can win VIP passes to the sale.

What are your tips for navigating the annual A&N Shoe Sale?


Writer coaching, author readings & more at New West’s Lit Fest

LitFest New West
LitFest New West is April 15 & 16 at various locations around the city, including Douglas College and the New Westminster Public Library. Full details about the festival are on

I must admit that I only vaguely recall hearing about Lit Fest New West before.  When I saw that the 3rd annual event is coming up on Friday, April 15th and Saturday, April 16th I was a little embarrassed that I hadn’t attended previously.  Being an avid reader, sometimes writer, and long time New West resident it seems like the kind of thing that should have been on my radar!

So, reading the blurb on the Arts Council website I immediately added it into my iPhone calendar so as not to miss this upcoming celebration of the written word.  It got me thinking about how the literary world is constantly evolving, with savvy new technology mediums for enjoying the written word of all kinds – whether it’s blog posts like this one, 144 character haikus on Twitter, or my friends Facebook posts I read and learn an extraordinary amount on a daily basis like never before.    Only a few years ago I would have spent hours browsing used book stores, now I see a book review tweet from the New York Times and have the novel downloaded on my Kindle in about 60 seconds.

Lit Fest seems to embrace this evolution with workshops and panel discussions around topics like online content vs. print, and how to use new Ebook technology.  They’ve also drawn some amazing talent featuring readings by BC Book Prize Nominee Morris Bates, Susin Nielsen – Author of Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom –  and the prolific and celebrated Michael Kenyon.

What’s really impressive however is that emerging authors can bring their latest works to the One on One Author Clinic for invaluable coaching, instant feedback from published authors Michael Kenyon and Renee Siklikar.  I’ve been to writer/reader festivals before, the opportunity for instant unbiased feedback to your work on the spot is pretty rare.  This element of the festival is bound draw a crowd and perhaps put New West on the literary map!

Even more impressive? According to Lit Fest Co-chair Charles Lester, admission is free to all events.  The full schedule hasn’t been posted yet, but will be soon at I suggest you put this into your calendar now…. before you click on the next post and it’s off your radar!