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Sunfest 2024: Cloudy and Glorious

Photo by Bowie Dawson

The precursor to Bennington’s beloved Sunfest— Moonfest— instilled a fervent energy within the students on campus in anticipation for the Saturday event to come. The night began at 7:30, with the opener of Lilly Golden and the Stars. The night continued with Aster at 8pm, Community Oomph at 8:30pm, Surgeon General at 9pm, and ending with the Klezmer Ensemble at 9:30. The liveliness of the Friday night crowd increased throughout the night as students drifted between the performances in downcaf and relaxing in the student center. As more bodies crowded downcaf, the room began to heat up. This failed to dampen any spirits, as by the end of the night students were moshing in enjoyment and support of bands on campus. The bands of Moonfest continuously cheered for the other bands on campus to build anticipation for Sunfest.

Photo by Elie Pichanick

This support continued in the afternoon of the following day, as Sunfest was kicked off at 1:30pm. The line up began with Aggie Miller, continuing with The Acute at 2:30pm, and then Eastbound Jesus at 3:30pm.The opening band, Aggie Miller, were Bennington Alumni, and stirred high energy in the crowd that continued on through the remainder of the afternoon. Students drifted between dancing, lounging on the lawn, and exploring the various tents and other events available. All the while, the sound of original student-written and performed music— as well as covers of beloved classics— drifted throughout campus and fostered a lovely environment for the evening to come. Students took a break from the music at 4:30pm, before Sunfest resumed again later that evening. At 6pm, Salami Rose Joe Luis began the second half, followed by Sofiya Wang at 7pm, Tipa Tipo at 8pm, and ending with Kokoto Brass at 9pm. 

Photo by Elie Pichanick

This year’s Sunfest had a wide range of items on sale ranging from handmade crafts to small businesses stopping by. Students came in full force to sell wares. The entirety of Canfield house took up four tables on their own selling ceramic mugs and similar items. There was a student selling necklaces and other ceramic wares, as well as others selling homemade card decks. PAC had two tent spaces this year. One was a repeat of last year’s homemade campus loom project and the other was selling the t-shirts with this year’s approved Sunfest designs. The shirts ranged from five to twenty dollars. The campus radio station, B-Rad, also had a booth, advertising the station to the campus. 

Photo by Elie Pichanick

There was a tent selling vinyl records. They brought vinyls ranging from Journey and the Police to Metalica and other hard rock bands. They said to The Lens: “We didn’t know what to bring so we brought mostly classic rock and left behind a good bit of the jazz.”  Their store, Belltower Records located in North Adams, MA, where an even wider range of music exists for all. 

Among all the tables, “mom” booth was visible again in full force as well, providing lounging students with snacks and water to make sure that they were taking care of themselves and that we students were kept safe. They were positioned right next to the blow up jousting ring as well as the giant Jenga set and cornhole games. 

Photo by Elie Pichanick

 The highs and lows of Sunfest bring us all back to our most pure forms. Like the young ones who jumped up and down on the blow up bouncer and twirled in the wind surrounded by bubbles, everyone on campus gets to be a kid again, laying on the grass and eating hot dogs sloppily, ketchup and mustard dripping down our rosy cheeks. We sipped on Capri-Suns as the bands played along to our youthful energy. 

 Each blanket was carefully laid down and stitched in as a tapestry. These blanket wastelands were divided by the sea of bright green grass, and various limbs waving their hands over the borders of their islands in applause, or to gesture over another friend in need of a home base. These groupings of Sunfest attendees ate, laughed and occasionally slept in their little blanket kingdoms, even when a few drops of rain began to glisten on their skin and floral sun dresses. 

Photo by Elie Pichanick

We, happy Sunfest survivors, draped ourselves in linen and light, and danced until the rays of sun (or lack thereof) moved away for good. As the day faded into darkness, flashing disco lights and dancing tunes hovered over the few remaining bodies. The sun and burgers may have drawn in the big crowd but the final hours of youthful play and wonderful music kept the people on the lawn. 

 As all the satisfied students made their way back to their dorms, full and socially sleepy, we bid goodnight to 2024 Sunfest, and made bedtime prayers for a sunnier day next May.

Photo by Elie Pichanick
Photo by Elie Pichanick

written by Stella Peacock-Berardini, Lauren Bertinato, and Lily Buck

photos by Elie Pichanick and Bowie Dawson

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