With a warm sun and an unwavering breeze, Sunday, April 24 marked a fine day for listening to soft rock and smooth jazz at Solar Fest. Organized by UNH’s Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), the event ran from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Boulder Field.
“I feel like I’m photosynthesizing…the thought of having to leave here to go inside is awful right now,” second year Solar Fest attendee Olive Lenox said.
The atmosphere was reminiscent of a lite Woodstock as various local bands, brought here by the Solar Fest Planning Committee, played while attendants soaked up the sun.
The slope of the field’s hill served as the ideal venue for an outdoor stadium. Scattered through the crowd were individuals wearing tie-dyed clothes, dreadlocks of all hair colors and parachute pants that rippled in the wind. Intricate knick-knacks were being sold around the circumference of the concert.
“These festivals just have such an earthy organic vibe,” Rochester local Dan Hardin said. Also known as “ghos lee” on Facebook, Hardin is a self-proclaimed hippie. He said he came to the event to follow one of his favorite bands, Harsh Armadillo.
“Some of us are just hippies following our favorite bands, living in our cars, going from festival to festival trying to make a living selling various things and enjoying ourselves and the music,” Hardin said.
Around the festival were several tables set up selling items that were seemingly free from corporate interference and evoked environmental consciousness. Such items were rings, pendants, walking sticks and t-shirts. There was also a small concession stand selling garlic grilled cheeses, bean burritos and a bevy of fruit-infused beverages.
SEAC’s table was one of many at the event. At their table, SEAC was promoting their “Choose 2 Reuse” campaign that “attempts to reduce, and hopefully one day stop, the use and sale of plastic bottles on campus,” according to sophomore SEAC member Alexis Prinz.
“This particular festival is significant to me because my major is community and environmental planning, and if you look around that is exactly what we have done here,” SEAC president and commissioner of the Solar Fest Planning Committee Molly Belanger said.
“Solar Fest is the biggest event that SEAC plans, taking up roughly two-thirds of their budget, costing about $20,000,” Belanger said.
“There was a lot of work and a lot of planning that went into a long process for Solar Fest,” Belanger said. “Some of the decisions were made in January and there were other things that went down to the last minute, but in the end we gathered a community while supporting the environment in the process which was the goal.”
Co-Commissioner of the Solar Fest Planning Committee Will Silverstein had other goals in mind.
“The event has been at UNH for around 20 years,” Silverstein said. “The whole event is about bringing good, live local music. The whole committee put so much effort into putting together a great show that isn’t like one of SCOPE’s concerts.”
SEAC wasn’t the only university organization at the event. Members of UNH Flow Arts came to the event to show off their skills. At first the flow arts were being performed sporadically and individually but then communally. When the band, Pardon The Spins, played their hit, “The Flow,” the team came together and put on a show of their own in front of the stage involving various objects such as hula-hoops, bow staffs, batons, LED Podpois and levitation wands as the audience watched and danced along atop of Rasta blankets covering the overgrown crab grass.
“The club started in September,” UNH Flow Arts President Lexus Reyna said. “A bunch of us didn’t have an outlet on campus into the festival scene. Hippie culture wanted to show the lifestyle we have during the summer that lots of people don’t know about, and that’s what we are here to do,” she said.
The festival continued into the night, powered by a solar charged bus called “Sunweaver,” which was hired specifically for the event.