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‘Solarfest’ returns to Boulder Field in late April

By M. J. Proulx, Contributing Writer

April is said to bring showers that lead to May flowers, but it also brings a whole lot more.

On April 26, The Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) will host the 22nd annual Solarfest, a festival that’s 100 percent solar-powered and 100 percent free to attend on the grass of Boulder Field.

Though solar energy is an important part of the festival, guests don’t need to be energy-savvy to enjoy Solarfest.

“Solarfest is a trifecta where community, sustainability and music are celebrated equally,” said Colleen Dunphy, Solarfest’s head coordinator.

As for music, festival goers can expect to hear an eclectic mix of sounds. At least six bands will be playing, including Roots of Creation, a local band which plays a hybrid of reggae, rock, and dubtronica. Other bands include Strange Machines, Harsh Armadillo, Upstate Rubdown, The Floods and Will Evans. In addition to these bands, Penn Johnson, a folk musician who sings about divestment, trees and peace, will be playing. The festival will also include Christo van Bree, an accordion player who happens to be a student at UNH.

Brett Wilson, lead vocalist and guitar player of Roots of Creation, said that the band is in the process of recording a triple fan funded album, and that Solarfest occurs at a perfect time for a break from the studio.

“We love the UNH crew,” Wilson said. “Three of our band mates are alumni, [and it’s] always a ragin’ time on the Seacoast in the 603.”

The band is looking forward to learning more about environmental activism by participating in Solarfest.

“We love that the event is 100 percent solar powered [and we’re] looking forward to possibly learning about how we can tour more sustainably and do our part,” Wilson said. “What’s better than an all ages show, with a ton of great bands outside, powered by the sun?”

The band will have some new music for event goers to look forward to.

“[We’re] stoked to throw down some new material and get the crowd fired up,” Wilson said.

Amid the music, visitors can peruse vendors for such items as clothing and jewelry, check out hooping performances and watch the UNH Aerial Dance Club. Crafts and frisbees will be available as well. These activities can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend.

Solarfest also provides those who attend with a chance to find out more about local awareness groups and student organizations, who will be setting up tables at the event. These groups often provide excellent opportunities for community involvement.

UNH students are looking forward to Solarfest for a variety of reasons. For students Eden Suoth and Nileesa Gautam, the concept of a festival run on solar power is very exciting.

“It’s awesome that it’s powered by solar energy and it’s bringing awareness to sustainability,” Suoth said.

“It’s bringing something that’s great for the environment into style,” Gautam said.

For others, the festival beckons with a sense of nostalgia.

“I’m from Missouri and we have a lot of things like that, like Earth Day festivals,” said Mackenzie Gebben, a UNH student and former Solarfest volunteer. “I miss that.”

Some UNH students, such as Kyleigh Pharris, are eager because the excitement of past attendees of Solarfest has rubbed off on them.

“A lot of my friends have gone in the past and they all love it,” Pharris said.

This is great news for Dunphy, who hopes for a turnout of 700 people, approximately 200 more than last year. However, she is wary of New Hampshire’s unpredictable weather.

“The weather is variable,” Dunphy said. “Everyone in the world should pray for sun that day.”

Nevertheless, if there is rain, the event will not be canceled, but moved into the Memorial Union Building.

If the weather cooperates, Solarfest will take place at Boulder Field on Main Street in Durham.

The festival will be on April 26, and will go from 11 a.m. until sundown. Attending the event is free of charge, as is parking.

The planners of Solarfest are still looking for vendors. Those interested in vending at the event are strongly encouraged to message UNH Solarfest on Facebook.

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