‘We are selling the vibe’: Donnell Land festivities return for fourth year

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s time to celebrate the fourth annual Donnell Land, which will take place from Friday through Monday.

Donnell Rawlings, who is a comedian, actor and podcaster and lives in Yellow Springs, began this epic event in 2021 with the purpose of bringing people together, especially bridging the gap between the Streets and Creeks. Rawlings first came to fame as Ashy Larry on “Chappelle’s Show.” Since then, he has been touring the country doing comedy. He has also acted in movies including “Spiderman 2.” He was also the voice of Dez in the movie “Soul.”

“It’s the history of those three-day weekends when I would put everyone together,” Rawlings said. “I wanted to continue the tradition of what I do on major holidays. This idea of Donnell Land isn’t the most creative idea, but we are bringing people together young and old. We are selling the vibe.”

The weekend includes many working pieces. Festivities kick off with two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday at Wiley’s Comedy Club in the Oregon District in Dayton. Following the performance, there will be a private VIP celebrity after-party at a surprise location where attendees can relax and enjoy cocktails, conversation and dancing. Two shows are also slated for 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I wanted to have the shows in a credible comedy club,” Rawlings said. “I like the people there. I do theaters and larger shows, but the best comedy show is where there are 200 to 300 people because of the energy. There’s not a bad seat in the house.”

During the day on Saturday, the highly anticipated kickball game between the Streets and Creeks will take place. This is the fourth year for this epic battle, and Rawlings said that his team (Creeks) is ready.

“There have been two [wins] for the Creeks and one for the Streets. But you know how the Streets act; they stole the game. They won in 2022, but we smoked them last year,” he said.

Before heading back to Wiley’s for two more shows on Saturday, people can connect with nature during a scenic hike and sound bath in Yellow Springs. Rawlings, who recently moved to Yellow Springs, loves what the village has to offer, especially the peacefulness.

“You can tell when a city guy buys a place in Ohio because he’s excited to see deer,” Rawlings said. “I love it. I travel a lot and have a lot of chaos, but I get to return and listen to the birds and look for Bambi.”

Sunday Funday is a day that is focused on family. The carnival for all ages will include games and an array of food ranging from classic festival fare to locally-sourced cuisine including Yellow Springs’ famous “barbeque.” Rawlings said that Sunday is for people to enjoy family and friends.

“It will be family-oriented by blood and community,” he said. “I have family, but Yellow Springs has become my family also. If you look at how families operate, there aren’t too many events they do together. Teens are with teens, and adults are with adults. This brings everyone together for a great day of fun.”

The final day includes a 5-mile river ride down the Mad River, which is one of Rawlings’ favorite parts of the event. There will also be a barbecue on Monday, and Rawlings will record a special taping of his podcast. Rawlings said the focus of the entire weekend will be relaxation and connection.

“I want people to leave their worries and concerns at home,” he said. “When I was doing shows with Dave [Chappelle] in the cornfield, I got attached to the river. Floating down the river is just so peaceful, but the beauty of it is the people.”

A full detailed list of the event can be seen on Rawling’s website at donnellrawlings.com/donnell-land. Tickets to various events can be purchased there as well. There is also a link for people to RSVP for the different events throughout the weekend. Tickets for comedy shows at Wiley’s can be purchased at wileyscomedy.com.

Upcoming show

The United Way of the Greater Dayton Area is hosting a comedy show featuring Donnell Rawlings at the Dayton Masonic Center on June 14. The musical talents of The Deron Bell Band and DJ Lady Locs will be on display as well.

The event will support HELPLINK/VETSLINK 211, a group that makes it easier for veterans, their families, and caregivers to connect with service providers to reduce frustration, stress and delay in getting the help that is needed. Rawlings is a veteran of the Air Force.

“I’m an Air Force vet. I love the fact that I can connect with airmen and seaman that were a really big part of my life,” Rawlings said.

The Dayton Masonic Center is located at 525 W. Riverview Ave. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range in price from $25 to $150 and can be purchased at www.dayton-unitedway.org/comedy.

Credit: Chris West

Credit: Chris West

Credit: Chris West

Credit: Chris West

Credit: Paul Smith Photography

Credit: Paul Smith Photography

Credit: Paul Smith Photography

Credit: Paul Smith Photography

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