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COVID-19 forces Vancouver's Powell Street Festival online

Last Updated Jul 31, 2020 at 2:24 pm PDT

The 44th annual Powell Street Festival is going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Powell Street Festival)

The 44th annual Powell Street Festival is going online this year

The celebration of Japanese-Canadian culture is hosting a telethon to raise money for community efforts

The virtual festival takes place on Saturday

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver’s yearly celebration of Japanese-Canadian culture is going online this year, because of COVID-19.

Organizers say the 44th annual Powell Street Festival, which is set for Saturday afternoon, may look a little different this year but it’s expected to still have a big impact on the community.

“For starters, we do not have a proper gathering, unfortunately. We won’t have 20,000 people gathering in the Powell Street neighbourhood,” Emiko Morita explains, adding that’s not stopping the festival from making this year memorable. “We are going online and we have a telethon that will broadcast on Saturday from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., directly on our website.”

Morita says the event is also raising money for a new meal program serving the Downtown Eastside, launching this fall.

“It’s a new project that we will launch in the fall as part of our overall community care program for the Downtown Eastside. It’s going to employ four Downtown Eastside peers to prepare meals once a week,” she tells NEWS 1130.

Morita says the Powell Street Festival is joining a larger network of grassroots community kitchens in the area.

Posted by Powell Street Festival on Thursday, July 23, 2020

The telethon will help fund this community kitchen effort, with Morita saying 100 per cent of the money raised will go toward the project.

There’s already been an outpouring of support.

“We set a goal of $20,000,” Morita says. “Last Saturday, we actually reached that goal, so now we have a stretched goal of $40,000.”