Khatsahlano Throws A Street Party Like No Other

One of this year’s organizers gives us a glimpse inside the festival

photo courtesy of Dirty Mike and the Boys

Ten blocks, eight stages, more than 50 performers and thousands of people in attendance—on July 11, the Khatsahlano Street Party became one of Vancouver’s largest outdoor events since the 2010 Winter Olympics, half a decade ago.

Just one of the many people who made the event possible was Terence Dorras-Donnelly, notable for being both a behind-the-scenes organizer and an on-stage performer. As the drummer for Ladner-based band Dirty Mike and the Boys, Dorras-Donnelly claims that the Street Party’s greatest attribute is its sheer scale, in that it allows small town bands like his to “get some new fans” by having access to larger venues.

“With almost 120,000-plus attendants, it’s almost guaranteed to have some fresh ears to hear us for the first time,” he says.

When he’s not drumming with Dirty Mike or the rest of the Boys, Dorras-Donnelly is employed by his father at John Donnelly & Associates, the primary organizing entity behind the Khatsahlano Street Party. In addition to hoping that the event sparks similar large-scale outdoor events across the Lower Mainland, Dorras-Donnelly also believes the success of this year’s Street Party will allow John Donnelly & Associates to draw even more acts next year.

Dirty Mike and the Boys appeared alongside a number of Canadian indie acts at the festival, including Kelowna’s Van Damsel, Vancouver’s Dark Blue World and Port Coquitlam’s Chersea. The headlining act of this year’s festival was Yukon Blonde, a steadily rising band from Kelowna that has reached its level of relative fame by appearing at events such as this one.

Featuring local bands was one of the primary goals of the festival, Dorras-Donnelly claims. The fact that so many B.C. groups received exposure to such a large collection of people benefits not just the bands themselves, but the entire indie music and artistic scenes of the province.

Dorras-Donnelly believes that, in addition to the opportunities for up-and-coming bands, “One of the best parts about Khatsahlano is the opportunity it provides to small artisanal businesses.” He claims that the organizers of the festival go beyond the call to feature “people who craft and create really cool and unique products,” and that the event “gives them a chance to reach out to many people in a short time”.

Some of the more interesting, niche businesses that he claims thrive at a festival like Khatsahlano include Point Two Designs, managed entirely by UBC graduates, which sell uniquely designed maps of cities, and Parrotphernalia, a company owned and operated by a single woman who sells one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry made of bird feathers.

This year’s Khatsahlano Street Party was seen as a resounding success, both in the eyes of organizers and assuredly in many of its visitors. The festival continually proves to be a cornerstone of B.C. culture, and enthusiasts like Dorras-Donnelly expect nothing but bigger and better things in the future.

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