Photo Credits: NICHOLAS CHAN / AGGIE FILE
The 50th annual festival will be one for the books
UC Davis’ will host its 50th annual Whole Earth Festival from May 10 to 12 on the Quad. This event will be filled with music, art and a whole lot of lovable hippies, so wear your Birkenstocks and mingle with your friends while enjoying a vegan pizza.
This student-run event was founded in 1969 as part of a small art project for a class on campus called “Art Happening.”
“I decided to become part of the Whole Earth Festival because I volunteered as a freshman,” said Kennedy Field, a third-year English and art history double major and Chaos Control Director for the Whole Earth Festival via email. “I volunteered for Night Keeping, which is our night-time security and I absolutely loved the experience and the people that I met. I genuinely felt at home.”
While the Whole Earth Festival aims to bring everyone a memorable three days, they also call for an environmental change.
“Not only is it a magical 3 day break from the “Real world”, but it is also a great avenue for sharing ideas and creating change,” said Tinka Peterka, a third-year design major and director of the Whole Earth Festival via email. “Our sustainable efforts and education booths are a great way to bring awareness to environmental and social issues in an inviting way for those who have never been exposed to them before.”
Tianna Ching, a third-year English and cognitive science double major and Publicity Coordinator for the Whole Earth Festival, said that while the festival started out as a small project, it has substantially grown since then, but the initial values remain.
“It was just a way to use art to teach people and visitors about activism, wellness, and environment sustainability,” Ching said.
The event will have multiple booths, some children-friendly and others perfectly tailored to college students. Booths will include craft booths, where vendors will sell jewelry or art, coffee booths, where all the proceeds will go towards funding the next year’s festival and food booths, where visitors can fill their stomachs with sustainable, vegan food for the weekend. WEF will have over 140 vendors at their event, but all will follow the sustainable and environment-friendly theme. With each booth serving its own purpose, the festival has something for everyone.
“It is so rewarding to see all the hard work that we all put in come together in one beautiful event,” Field said. “Leading up to the festival, we check in with each other a lot, but we never know exactly what everyone else is doing, so once it becomes festival we get to see how all of our hard work combines and fits together!”
The festival aims to have a wide range of music. Over the span of three days, the Whole Earth Festival will become home to 30 musicians. In previous years, the Whole Earth Festival hosted many performers including Tempest, Big Sticky Mess and Geographer.
Sticking true to its roots, the festival will have an art space. This will serve as an art gallery for community members to showcase their creations. If interested, WEF takes applications every year from January to March for the upcoming festival.
“It’s a very fun, relaxing time,” Ching said. “Especially [because] it’s kind of in the middle of midterms and all that stuff. So it’s really fun to just relax and hear some good music.”
When purchasing food, the Whole Earth Reusables Cooperatives will provide customers with reusable dishes. They will wash the dirty plates for vendors who choose to make this day a sustainable and environmentally friendly experience. The food vendors are required to use reusable, washable dishes to the best of their ability. If their dishes are not reusable then all of the waste needs to be either recyclable or compostable.
“The planning process always gets difficult,” Field said. “But these moments honestly don’t matter that much, because at the end of the day, the festival just happens. No matter who or how we make mistakes, there are other people there to help and support us and things always work out.”
With the Quad being such a big space, the festival will have three main stages. Their Quad stage will be their largest and host many of the musicians. Each day will hold a new headlining artist and following bands. Headlining the festival is Kid Bloom, Y La Bamba and The Dirt Feelin. The bands Beauty Queen, Indigo Elephant and Tempest will perform during the opening and closing ceremonies. The Cedar Stage will have a much different vibe. The Cedar Stage is smaller and will give the audience the opportunity to hear a wide range of performers. From spoken word and EDM, this stage is meant for visitors to stop by, munch on their sustainable snacks and listen to something they have never heard before. The third stage is the dance stage where multiple cultures will share their dance and traditions with the hundreds of people that enjoy the festival.
“The festival has a life of its own and it’s always amazing to see it come to life in ways we could have never imagined,” Field said.
Ching explained that working on a big event like the Whole Earth Festival requires a lot of work, but with a big group of volunteers and staff, it’s hard not to look at the positive side of the situation.
“It’s a little much,” Ching said. “But when you’re working together in this group, and you’re all sleep deprived and so tired, and delirious it is kind of fun. It’s like hanging out and you’re all in this together and you really do bond.”
While the festival ends at 8 p.m. on Sunday night, it continues for the staff of the WEF. The staff and volunteers will stay afterwards to make sure everything is in its right place and all the trash and compost are put in the correct bins. But even as the festival comes to an end, the festival never fails to make long lasting memories for everyone involved.
“We received a letter last year from an elderly man, thanking our staff for working hard to put on the festival.” Peterka said. “He had met his now wife at the festival almost 40 years ago, proposed to her at the festival a year later, and continues to come with her and the rest of his family each year.”
The Whole Earth Festival is open to the public, but parking isn’t free. The festival will take place all day from May 10 to 12.
Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — firstname.lastname@example.org