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Davis, California

Saturday, October 23, 2021

41st Annual Whole Earth Festival to be held this weekend

Nothing says “frugality” and “ecological sustainability” better that the 41st Annual Whole Earth Festival (WEF) – a weekend fully equipped with three days of nonstop music, art and education.

The largest green-living event of Davis will take place on and around the quad, featuring local artwork, crafts and live music. This year’s theme is “From the Ground UP.”

Some of the artwork and sculptures on display will allow festival-goers to touch, build, decorate and even sit on them.

“Since it’s such a vibrant festival, I thought it’d be great to have live artists and interactive sculptures,” said Maya McNeil, art director of this year’s WEF. “I’m looking forward to seeing how people react and appreciate the artwork.”

McNeil herself is building a 150-foot labyrinth for the event. Other artists include UC Davis ceramics graduate Cynthia Stepp, whose artwork visually represents abstract thoughts and ideas.

“It’s inspiring to see people look into their own creativity. We also have six amazing artists that will be painting live during the entire festival – they’ll just kind of go off what they get from the crowd, and paint these shapes,” she said.

Harlan Gruber, an artist and New York native, will also be participating in the WEF art events. He is well-known for combining both science and art into his sculptures. Folks will be able to climb, explore and interact with his giant geometrical Amethyst Portal.

And just in case you get overwhelmed with all the massive artwork and crafts, the event will feature live music as well.

“There will be a lot more electronic acts this year, because we’re catering to people our age who seem to enjoy electronic music,” said Brennen Bird, a WEF director. “In my opinion, the [WEF] brings some of the best music to Davis. I’ve been introduced to so many bands through this festival.”

Almost all of the bands performing are local, due to the festival’s tight entertainment budget of $6,000.

“This budget is really nothing if you want to have a three-day music festival, so we have to make do with what we can, and we end up drawing in a lot of local bands because of this,” Bird said. “A lot of the bands come for the love of the festival – not because they’re interested in getting paid.”

Among the performing bands is Wooster, a blues, reggae and rock band from Santa Cruz. They will be performing on Friday at the Cedar Stage.

“We definitely have some Davis roots, and we’re big fans of the festival,” said Bobby Hanson, who plays bass for the band. “Our music is perfect for the event because you get dancing crowd, and there’s always a little something to move to.”

Wooster was featured as an opening band at least year’s WEF. This year, they will be playing a closing slot. “We’re excited to be back, and I’m definitely planning on staying and hanging out afterwards,” Hanson said. “So if anybody wants to hang out, come find us.”

Hanson said that he is looking forward to the Raw Chocolate Workshop with Joy Taylor. This will take place Friday at 4 p.m. at the Sacred Space.

Another band to look forward to is LYNX and Janover, which consists of the electro-acoustic and hip-hop duo known for their folk-style song writing, beat boxing, and guitar playing rhythms.

Other performances include Boco do Rio, Jake Mann and the Upper Hand, Snowlions and the UC Davis spoken word collective Sickspits Poetry Collective.

The quad itself will also be a host to a variety of vendors selling food, arts and craft. However, this year’s event had to reduce its size due to the ASUCD Coffee House construction.

“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise. Because of the event’s reduction, there will be fewer vendors, meaning that we’ll all get a fair mix of the festival’s exposure,” McNeil said. “The new layout of the festival is going to look different, which will give us room to a lot of new and wonderful things.”

Don’t forget that there will be tons of live dance and educational booths as well to expand your knowledge on being green and waste consciousness.

“The [WEF] was started with great intentions, and I think that as much as it changes and metamorphoses over the years the staff always finds some way to combine community and world interests at the heart of it,” said McNeil. “There’s just a lot of art, music and activism for everyone to enjoy.”

For more information about the WEF or a complete listing of events, visit wef.ucdavis.edu. To read more about WEF itself, read the Aggie’s campus article.

LAUREN STEUSSY contributed to this article. VANNA LE can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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