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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Sold Out to Love: This year’s Whole Earth Festival highlighted art and community

The annual event transformed the UC Davis Quad into a joyful gathering place


By ANA BACH and CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org 


From May 12 to May 14, the Whole Earth Festival took place on the UC Davis Quad. Nicknamed “WEF,” the annual event has been happening over Mother’s Day Weekend for more than fifty years, though only making the change from a “small art class project” to the WEF of today when the United Nations formally recognized Earth Day in 1970.

The theme of this year’s festival was “Sell Out to Love” — a perfect fit for the event, as it strives to be 100% waste-free and centers around sustainability, acceptance, expression and community. WEF is run entirely by students, from the organization to the volunteers cleaning dishes during the festival. 

There was high energy from attendees for the extent of WEF. Along with plenty of food and vendor booths to explore, the event featured many entertainment acts, including musicians and dancers. Each day had something unique for visitors of all ages, so there was no chance of getting bored. 

Along with the numerous vendors selling handmade woodwork, bracelets, tie-dye and more, WEF also had tents with activities specially catered to younger guests. These included face-painting booths and other hands-on activities, and though presumably intended for children, guests of all ages participated in the crafting. 

Other features of the festival included information booths manned by various campus organizations and a “Festival Dome” that served as an information booth located in the middle of the action. The dome has been a longstanding emblem of WEF that serves as a definite sign that the festival is up and running.

There was a wide variety of food served throughout the weekend, including Davis favorites like Dumpling House and Niknek Lemonade, which offered a wide selection of vegetarian snacks, meals and drinks at varied price points.

Brianna, a third-year psychology major, was one of the vendors at WEF. She is an owner of and maker for the Davis-based clothing brand we2cow, which offers custom embroidered apparel. She noted that some of the food she tried was on the more affordable side, especially for vendors who were stationed on the Quad for the entirety of the weekend. 

“We got street corn, which was reasonably priced and really good, but that was [about] all the food we got here,” she said. “We either brought food from home or [got food from] downtown.”  

An installation new to WEF was the multi-sided bulletin board structure that had prompts surrounding compassion — an unmistakable tribute to the late David Henry Breaux, otherwise known as “Compassion Guy.” Each side of the 3D board had a piece of paper with different prompts on it, such as “What does compassion mean to you?” There were dozens of responses taped up around the central paper, as anyone passing by could use the markers, paper and tape provided to write and post their own thoughts on the matter. 

The closing ceremony featured remarks from some of the volunteers and facilitators that made WEF happen, including a shoutout to past staff and — in true WEF fashion — a call for any help from the crowd to clean the last of the dishes and pick up any leftover trash. 

WEF embodies the best of UC Davis, from its conception to its core values, and the turnout from students, alumni and community members alike attests to its place as a staple in our campus culture. 

Written by: Ana Bach and Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org