This year, the annual Powell Street Festival hit a major snag. Thanks to an ongoing occupation by First Nations protesters of Oppenheimer Park, the event’s usual site, organizers have had to transplant the country’s largest Japanese-Canadian festival. This week it was announced that the the food, entertainment and other planned activities will continue, but in a car-free block party format centred at Alexander Street (between Princess and Dunlevy avenues) and Jackson Avenue (between Railway and Cordova Streets).
This is the 38th year for the festival, which takes place Friday, August 1 – Sunday, August 3. In a press release, programming director Kristen Lambertson is quoted as saying, “We are very excited about the new plan for this year’s festival and the fact that we are remaining in the historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood near our indoor venues. While it’s disappointing not to have use of Oppenheimer Park, we believe this could be one of our biggest and best festivals to date and we invite everyone to come enjoy our free event.”
The new site spans approximately four city blocks. One main stage is on Alexander Street and will feature non-stop entertainment from 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There will be some programming changes, but the list of artists, activities, demonstrations, and vendors will move ahead as planned. “We’re also thrilled that we were able to retain our fantastic lineup of performers, over 25 craft and market booths, community booths and over 15 food vendors,” added Lambertson.
According to the press release, “Food booths, including new vendors selling ramen and Japanese style hotdogs, will run along Jackson Avenue, while craft booths, community booths and the children’s tent will be centralized around the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Alexander Street. The sumo tournament and martial arts demonstrations will continue indoors at the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall.
The 38th Annual Powell Street Festival launches on Friday night with a ticketed concert at Electric Owl (926 Main St.) featuring GRMLN, a noise-pop project from Kyoto-born, Southern California-based musician Yoodoo Park with Vancouver band Late Spring opening.
For the rest of the festival, participating venues include the Firehall Arts Centre (280 E. Cordova St), Vancouver Japanese Language School and Hall (475 Alexander St), Vancouver Buddhist Temple (220 Jackson Ave) and Centre A (229 E. Georgia St).