From May 9 to May 11, UC Davis celebrated its annual 45th Whole Earth Festival. This year’s theme was “Curiosity Connects.”
The festival featured live performances, speeches and a variety of vendors selling artwork, clothing, jewelry and accessories. There were also service and education booths and spaces designated for activities like hula-hooping, workshops and spiritual development. Some booths had artifacts specially designed to make children more conscious of the environment. The festival was an alcohol-free and zero-waste event.
Mike Erickson, UC Davis alumnus and this year’s Food Booth director, has been involved in the festival since his time as an undergraduate. He enjoys seeing students involved and dedicated to making the festival as successful as possible.
“What I really like about the festival isn’t what’s presented to the crowd,” Erickson said. “What I like is that this is entirely student-run. All these students get together and come up with these ideas about what they want to present to the crowd and they make it happen. That’s what the festival means to me.”
Sierra Belden, a fourth-year animal science major, said that the festival is truly a way to bring people together and connect with one another.
“The Whole Earth Festival is an expression of our community,” Belden said. “It’s a really cool way for students to interact.”
According to Chris Hong, a UC Davis alumnus and this year’s publicity director and program designer, both participating in the festival and planning it allowed individuals to explore and appreciate everything the event has to offer.
“When you’re at a Whole Earth Festival, you feel like you can do anything you want,” Hong said. “You can just be yourself and no one will really judge you. There’s a lot of different things going on — music, arts and crafts, workshops — you’re free to explore anything you want. And everyone always has fun at the Whole Earth Festival. You can see it too.”
Hong said that people who attend the event on any of the days will walk away believing that the festival is very diverse and insightful.
“Students can definitely learn from the education aspects,” Hong said. “With everything from diversity to sustainability to cultural competency to anything about the environment. These are all free workshops and seminars and people can learn a lot from them. There is a lot of opportunity to participate with yourself, with others and with the festival.”
Sally Shine, a UC Davis alumnus, attended the first Whole Earth Festival in 1969 and has witnessed the festival’s growth over the years.
Shine admired the students’ efforts to collaborate on ideas, to take care of the environment and to provide entertainment to guests from all over the world.
“There is a tremendous amount of work involved, but everyone comes away with knowing that it is considered to be a nice festival to be at,” Shine said. “These people here are all doing our very best and having the most fun that you can have. It’s an experience that’s hard to talk about because it’s from a place where one’s intention is greater than what any one person can sum up. And things happen that you could never imagine.”
On the night of May 11, Shine brought the three-day festival to a close with words of wisdom and hope.
“I try to keep an authentic ceremony that genuinely intends to express the gratitude for the time that we’ve had together and sow the seeds for a good year and us being able to do it again next year and that people benefit from the festival,” Shine said afterward.
JASMINE MANGABAY can be reached at email@example.com.
Photos by Rosa Furneaux.