Arts of all kinds blend in Coquitlam's Kaleidoscope festival

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      Last year, the City of Coquitlam reflected on its 125th anniversary and decided what was missing was a legacy event, one that would bring the city’s vibrant arts community together in a public celebration.

      “We wanted a reason for people to come back and see how it’s changed,” Eric Kalnins, manager of tourism for the city, tells the Straight in a phone interview. “We wanted to go, ‘Come celebrate with us.’ ”

      The idea came to life with the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, the city’s free outdoor celebration of the arts, which returns for its second year this weekend.

      Food trucks, a beer garden, artisan markets, and craft stations­ as well as dance, music, and storytelling—will be taking over Town Centre Park. There will be story-writing and art competitions to get community members involved. And festivalgoers can expect a few upgrades—namely, a performance by B.C. rock star Bif Naked, and easier access to the site thanks to the Lafarge Lake–Douglas SkyTrain station that opened last December.

      Kalnins says the city is expecting between eight and 10 thousand people to make their way to the park, drawn from both the city’s growing, relatively young population and Vancouver residents who can easily attend because of the newly extended transit. He saw this phenomenon take shape when thousands of people came out to the Canada Day celebrations at Town Centre Park last month.

      “The average age of people in Coquitlam is 38; we’re a young city,” says Kalnins. “People are moving out here to buy their first homes, and we’re seeing an uptick in these events. People are going, ‘I don’t want to go downtown for entertainment.’ We’ve hit a chord and we’re hitting our stride right now, and people are loving it.”

      Last year, Kaleidoscope featured mostly local acts and ran for two days, something Kalnins says resulted in a drop-off in attendance over the course of the weekend. This year, the city has focused on stacking the lineup for one day only. Aside from Bif Naked’s anticipated performance, the day’s programming features local musicians Jennifer Hayes, the Paperboys, and the Matinee. Musical acts will be performing on the Plaza Stage, built in honour of the city’s 125th. The stage faces west and overlooks Lafarge Lake—Kalnins assures that “it’s an absolutely stunning place to watch a concert.”

      Terra Dickinson, cultural events supervisor for the City of Coquitlam, was involved in the organization of Kaleidoscope from its initial run. Dickinson tells the Straight that she’s looking forward to the festival’s second iteration after the positive feedback from last year.

      “It was wonderful to see all the planning come together, and to see people enjoy all the hard work,” she says. She promises, “It’s going to be a dynamic festival experience where you can have something for all of your senses.”

      Dickinson says this mandate was behind the naming of Kaleidoscope. The title refers to the changing reflections, shapes, and colours its namesake invokes. The multidisciplinary festival invites people of all ages and interests to gather in the shared green space of a century-old city that’s still growing and creating—to sit back, relax, and enjoy the kaleidoscopic reflections of Coquitlam’s artistic mosaic.

      The Kaleidoscope Arts Festival runs from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday (August 12) at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park.