Philfest attendees enjoy fun in sun

Nathalie Tadena

More than 600 students relaxed on the Norris East Lawn on Sunday afternoon, dancing and listening to bluegrass bands as part of Philfest, an annual music festival organized by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development. This year, the event was co-sponsored with A&O Productions.

With performances by bands Tea Leaf Green, Cornmeal, the Giving Tree Band and the Gentleman of NUCO, Philfest offered more than just music for students. For the first time, Philfest included a green fair with booths for environmental groups on campus, including Engineers for a Sustainable World, ECO and the Environmental Policy Program. Concert-goers also had the opportunity to plant seeds and paint a Philfest mural.

Sunny spring weather helped make the event more successful than last year’s concert, which was rained out and held inside Norris University Center, organizers said.

“We’re so happy we had nice weather today, ” said Stephanie Jarzemsky, a Philfest co-chair. “We couldn’t ask for a better day.”

McCormick freshman Christina Lee said she enjoyed the event’s laid-back atmosphere.

“I wanted somewhere to chill on a Sunday afternoon, this was a good place to relax outside,” said Lee, who added that she plans to attend the concert next year. “The music was nostalgic for me since I’m from the South.”

The event, held from 1 to 7 p.m., drew a diverse crowd of frisbee throwers, tight-rope walkers and Evanston residents.

Philfest is held every year to honor Phillip Semmer, an NU student and SEED member who passed away in 2000. The concert raises money annually for the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental nonprofit think tank for which Semmer wanted to work.

The event raised approximately $600 in donations, Jarzemsky said. Semmer’s mother will also match the funds raised by Philfest and donate an additional $600 for the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Jarzemsky said the co-sponsorship with A&O helped make the concert a bigger show than in years past. Both groups worked together to book performers for the show.

“It’s traditionally a bluegrass festival, but we looked for groups with a rootsy vibe or a jammy vibe,” said Forrest Wickman, A&O concerts director.

Weinberg sophomore Natalie Noble said she enjoyed the event, adding that it was the first time she saw a musician play the banjo.

“Music and concerts are good outlets that encourage people to come out, but (student involvement) is really the nuts and bolts of promoting sustainability,” said Noble, who attended the event to help promote a new student group, CarboNUtral.

One of the event’s main missions is to raise awareness of environmental practices, said SEED co-Chair Elisa Redish.

“We’re really trying to get our name out there, increase our draw and educate others on how to achieve sustainability,” the Weinberg sophomore said.

Students were asked to sign a petition that will be sent to incoming University President Morton Schapiro requesting that he hire a campus sustainability coordinator, assess NU’s environmental impact and create a comprehensive climate action plan. In return, students pledged to cut back on their environmental impact through day-to-day activities such as recycling, using cold water for laundry and utilizing reusable water bottles.

“We’ve already started coming together with staff and faculty members to start working on recommendations for President Schapiro,” Redish said. “I think he will be very receptive.”

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