Philfest features bluegrass, body paint and eco-awareness

By Nicholas Garbaty

Despite the forecast for inclement weather moving the event inside, environmentalists and music lovers alike turned out to the ground floor of Norris for Philfest on Saturday. Produced by A&O Productions and Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED), the bluegrass festival and environmental activities fair honors the memory of Northwestern student and environmental activist Phil Semmer, who died in an automobile accident in 2000 .

“We made this concert and event to honor Phil and his memory,” said Roshanne Malekmadani, chair of Philfest for SEED. “It’s a great way to bring together Northwestern’s community and appreciate and enjoy environmental things.”

A&O members brought in three bands this year, including Grammy-nominated act Della Mae. The other two bands, Mad Bread and The Templetons are both from Illinois, giving Philfest a local presence as well.

“Music always brings people together,” said Morgan Hecht, the director of concerts for A&O. “It’s cool to bring in local and very established entertainment to campus and just create a community around music as the last hurrah of spring.”

While the music played, environmental student organizations and companies provided creative activities focused on promoting environmental awareness. Pura Playa, Northwestern’s “plastic waste reduction team,” has long been a part of Philfest.

“We were excited to reach out to the coordinator and be invited back to participate in promoting environmental awareness in just kind of a fun afternoon,” said Megan Renner, co-project manager for Pura Playa.

Pura Playa’s booth had participants bowling with plastic water bottles. Meanwhile, Real Food at NU had food-shaped poetry writing, SEED blended smoothies with a bicycle and Fossil Free NU painted peoples’ feet and had them step on a banner to create “carbon footprints”.

“Philfest is really about teaching us about environmental sustainability and raising awareness, too,” Hecht said. “We don’t really have bluegrass festivals on campus here, so this is just a way to have good music, hang out and have fun.”

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