A Student Tradition: Wulapalooza Showcases Creativity

Guitar licks and crowd cheers fill the air during Wulapalooza, Willamette's annual Earth, art and music festival, but the sounds of action really begin the day before: hammers pounding metal, organizers calling out instructions, artists discussing colors.

A flurry of activity fills Brown Field as students help assemble the large stage that plays host to a dozen or so student musical groups and several headlining regional bands. They hang banners, paint signs and gather tables and chairs to create the backdrop for Willamette's version of Lollapalooza and Woodstock.

Students are as involved in forming the spring festival as they are in letting loose during the event. "I think most students realize that it's all put together by their peers, and they appreciate that," says Cliff Batson '10, co-president of the 2009 event. "We just try to put on a festival that we would enjoy, and we hope other people feel the same way."

A group of students created Wulapalooza in 1998 as a small festival to provide a creative outlet. Today the event draws members of the Salem community and attracts nationally recognized musical talent. Headliners have included The Mae Shi, Mirah, Blitzen Trapper, The Blow, Viva Voce and The Long Winters.

Everything from the booking of bands to the recruitment of students to sell their crafts is coordinated by a group of student organizers. At the festival, a plethora of student organizations sponsor booths, making Wulapalooza an event that draws a vast cross-section of the Willamette community.

Tokyo International University of America students sing and fold origami, the Poi Club dances with fire, Phi Delta Theta floats rubber ducks down the Mill Stream to raise money for charity and the Native American Enlightenment Association creates a community dream catcher, among other activities.

"I really appreciate the community aspect of Wulapalooza," says Georgia Watson '09, who sold her crocheted hats at the 2009 festival. "This is one of the few events that a lot of different people come to, and I like to see all the faces I don't normally see on campus. I appreciate sharing this time together."

Beyond all the organizing and showcasing of talent, Wulapalooza ultimately gives students a day to rollick on campus and take a break before final exams.

"A lot of student bands come out, and we have a great time playing," Patrick Leary '11 says. "It's a day when we can all just go wild, forget our studies and do our own thing."