A Hula Hooper's Paradise

UC Davis Quad
Administration: 260 S. Silo, UCD
Hadeyeh Hidarinejad
Christopher Myers
2005 Whole Earth Festival: May 6-8
2006 Whole Earth Festival: May 12-14
2007 Whole Earth Festival: May 11-13
2008 Whole Earth Festival: May 9-12
2009 Whole Earth Festival: May 8-10
2010 Whole Earth Festival: May 7-9
2011 Whole Earth Festival: May 6-8
2012 Whole Earth Festival: May 11-13
2013 Whole Earth Festival: May 10-12
2014 Whole Earth Festival: May 9-11
2015 Whole Earth Festival: May 8-10
Parent Organization
Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD)

Whole Earth is a family event. It is held on Mother's day weekend. (photo Bev Sykes) The Whole Earth Festival (WEF), an ASUCD unit, is a huge, FREE, eco-friendly three-day music, dance, arts, crafts and education festival which takes place in Spring during Mother's Day Weekend. It's the closest thing to Woodstock we have. It's a must-see Davis event. Tons of folks who are committed to sustainable living and environmental harmony make a pilgrimage to Davis for the WEF, and the UC Davis Quad area is lined with art & craft tents, music acts, massage tables, food and a child care area. Various workshops occur throughout the weekend as well. Of all the festivals that take place on campus, this is one of the most organized. Volunteering is quite the experience, plus you get a free shirt if you do.

The WEF uses hundreds of volunteers (known as Karma Patrol) for the festival. If you want to eat some good food and get an artsy shirt for free, you should sign up to volunteer on their website.

If you want a booth or your band wants to play, apply on their website towards the end of the year when the applications go up. The WEF office is located in 260 South Silo and shares an office with the Experimental College.

A little known fact is that Whole Earth Festival is one of the few ASUCD units that receives no subsidy. To put it in perspective, Picnic Day (another annual UCD event) receives over $20,000 a year in funding from student fees. WEF is self-sufficient.

The festival is a drug free zone so please keep this in mind when attending.

Some cool history is here, and over 30 years of photos are online at the WEF photo archive.

Unique things to check out

  • The Recycling and Composting effort is very successful. In 2004, only 420lb (3.5%) of the festival's waste went to the landfill. The rest was recycled or composted.
  • Most people do not realize that every item that is thrown away at WEF is eventually dumped onto a large table and sorted by a volunteer. While this may not sound like an appealing idea at first, it is actually one of the most entertaining and coveted volunteer positions. Try it out, you might even find a groundscore. It's amazing what some people throw away.
  • The Whole Earth Reusables Cooperative (WERC) runs the dish program for the weekend. It is one of only a few of its kind, and in some aspects is making waves on the campus, and in the festival / event world. Everyone from those damn hoopies to Camtroller and the 3rd floor ASUCDers are using the plates...
  • Have a seat on the bench that was made during the 2004 Whole Earth Festival.
  • There is a drum circle of epic proportions.

Things lost to time

  • In the pit of Wellman Hall there was a DJ Stage that played all day and til 10pm at night... Known as the Sunken Garden some years and other years simply as the pit, it has some kind sound down there. Alas, in 2011, there was a reported beating, sexual assault of a 14 year old and rape of a 16 year old. UC Davis decided to close the doors on the DJ stage before the investigation was even complete. Fred Wood, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs wrote in a public statement, "we are sending message that people cannot come to our campus and behave this way."

Karma Dome c.74 (photo copyright W.E.F.) A group gets friendly in 1980 (photo copyright W.E.F.) Living Legend Wavy Gravy hangs out at whole Earth in 1981 (photo copyright W.E.F.)


You must be logged in to comment on this page. Please log in.

2004-12-11 19:12:53   The WEF was originally an art class project. They used to have a LOT of free stuff going on in the booths during the Seventies, but now it's devolved into more or less a holistic arts and crafts fair, where most booths are about making a profit. That said, it's still a fun festival (often held on Mother's Day weekend) and students and non-students alike should attend at least once. - CentralDavisite

  • While WEF has evolved over time, Whole Earth Festival is THE best festival to go to in Davis. While the outer ring of the festival is largely dedicated to arts, crafts and food vendors of a sustainable nature; the INNER ring of the festival is all about FREEdom and fun. A few of us realized in 2006 after participating in Davis Art and Revolution, that there is seemingly two festivals going on at once, one outer about commerce which we all need and one inner about exploring oneself and finding a truer meaning to life that does not require money. —MorganTorngrenTatman

2004-12-19 16:07:43   WEF is actually a Non Profit itself. The booths do make a bit of cash, but the folks who are selling the crafts are mostly families who need such income to support themselves, as this is all they do. This is completely different than any usual holistic arts and crafts faire. For many, this is the first festival of the spring and a lot of these folks have been strapped for income for months by the time they get out to the UCD quad. I would think it is more of an educational event, educating all on an alternative lifestyle with a focus on lessening our communal impact on the earth in a variety of ways through our everyday actions... - MikeyNolan

  • While I agree with Mikey that the goal of the event is education about life alternatives for folks, the reality for the casual participant is a big arts and crafts fair. Which is nice enough, but not the spiritual-life-changing-event that some would like it to be. —Rocksanddirt

2005-01-21 11:18:00   Witnessing the orwellians at last years WEF gave me a whole new respect for the organization as well as a strengthened sense of irony. —DanMasiel

  •   What did the Orwellians do? —SummerSong 2005-04-14 16:30:24

2005-04-14 20:11:25   Back when UCD had a kickass art department, WEF was the place to be. At work, I did some really old video transfers featuring people such as Timothy Leary. —ArlenAbraham

2005-04-14 14:15:25   Don't forget to check out the students for a clean earth booth! They'll be there with bells on!!!

2005-05-06 14:15:25   I hope the Orwellians will let us know where they're going to be... hint hint... —MichaelGiardina

2005-05-07 11:48:34   The drum circle beacons.. —SirPallas

2006-05-13 16:48:40   do NOT purchase the eggplant sandwich. the fact that something that horrible comes from the whole earth festival is grounds for a city ordinance to ban hippies for life —DavisHo

2006-05-16 15:51:43   The dish system is not like no other. I've seen it in music festivals in Europe. —AntoineBouthors

You're right, it's not the dish system that's unheard of. It's people actually USING it that's unheard of. —BradBenedict

2008-05-07 12:42:57   Davis Community Acupuncture Clinic will be there this year, and while we aren't allowed to use needles, we'll be doing a bunch of other cool stuff and answering any questions you may have for our resident acupuncturist: Itay Neta. Swing by for your free consultation! —itayneta

2008-05-09 06:17:29   What are the best things to do for a groovy time? —GonZo

  • Personal faves: Soular Dance Stage, talk with crafters, hug a KPer, play (disc/sack/juggle/your choice) while listening to a band.
  • My fave: join the KARMA PATROL and help make the Festival happen!

2008-05-09 19:23:19   Oh why, oh why do I have to work during all the cool events? —SunjeetBaadkar

2008-05-10 15:13:38   I heard that they are forcing vendors to close at 6pm with threat to fine them if they don't. Seems sorta lame to close up so early when people are still out there... —SunjeetBaadkar

  • Don't believe everything you hear. In this case, it was true about closing craft and education booths at 6 PM (probably will be in 2009, too), but fines? Ha! The idea (I believe) is that as the focus shifts to the stages, it's pretty hard to keep the chaos controlled and any security going if vending is still going on. If the booths shut, then the Karma Patrol can concentrate on stages & keeping the crowd happy. It probably does quash a few sales, but makes the event as a whole more manageable. —DougWalter

2008-05-10 16:43:41   we went late morning/early afternoon, and it didn't seem nearly as busy or patronized as it has in years past. There were significantly less vendors there than I remembered, and the crowds weren't very big. —ElleWeber

2009-01-25 20:44:01   The first one was called Whole Earth Week and like the name says, lasted a whole week. I went there every day and even got out of my 6th grade class for one whole day of it to participate and be part of a parade that went someplace downtown-maybe on 3rd Street-and back to the quad. The article calls it the closest thing to Woodstock Davis has which is accurate enough in common parlance but I think it's fun to note that Whole Earth Week actually predates Woodstock by four or five months! I recently saw a Peter Max poster for the 1970 Whole Earth Week for sale on the internet. It's pretty cool. Whole Earth continued as a week-long event for at least a couple of years and changed flavor very distinctly year-by-year, reflecting changes in popular culture in interesting ways. Back then I was sure that soon we would all be living in geodesic domes; in harmony with the earth and each other. It seemed so obvious. —JohnBaker

2009-05-11 18:41:19   I was playing saxophone with another saxophonist and a flautist in a drum circle at the 2009 festival. If anyone has any pictures, they would be much appreciated, since I didn't bring my camera to the festival. E-mail is amsamson@ucdavis.edu

2010-04-19 07:47:27   While I can respect and even admire some of the things the majority seem to stand for in this event, I can not understand why they have no respect or understanding of others needs and others personal space during it. The scent of funk is everywhere and, as much as they desire a clean environment, they seem to do more to harm it than to help it on each visit. This accompanied by the rapid increase in theft and other crime in town make me believe it would be better to not have this "celebration" at all. —WesOne

  • I like how they decide that the event is environmentally friendly because of the small amount of waste going to landfills when recycling pollutes as well. There's nothing wrong with going out and having fun, but people should know that just having fun usually means there will be environmental damage. Of course, I really enjoy the nice and quiet aspect of Davis, so would not mind being without Picnic Day or Whole Earth Festival. —hankim
  • There is no free lunch. There is a cost to everything and recycling does require energy, etc. However, it costs energy and resources to make a new cup just like it costs to recycle said cup. Recycling is (99% of the time) more environmental friendly than throwing things away. —DagonJones
  • WesOne refers to "the rapid increase in theft and other crime in town". Please cite your sources. There is always a post-event meeting with all the folks involved in organizing WEF (including City and UCD police), and I haven't heard reports from them about any WEF-related crime wave. There are usually a few drunks arrested during the 3-day event, but not much else. (And I'd expect that of any large/rock concert.) Thanks. —LoisRichter

2011-04-11 21:51:05   The organizing committee would like to know about any off site problems during that weekend. We are aware that we have a social as well as an ecological footprint. Bringing more people into town has an effect. We can weigh the refuse that goes in various directions and meter the amps that we use to measure the ecological footprint. But to gauge the off site impact of having a festival, the staff has to hope that people who are bothered that weekend complain to us. Hopefully with something specific. —MichaelErickson

2011-05-05 16:55:47   I had a lovely time at the Whole Earth Festival last year, and I can't wait to attend again this weekend! I thoroughly enjoyed the frozen chocolate bananas from Joy & Taylor's Raw Chocolates, and I even bought some really nice — and handmade! — jewelry for my mother for Mother's Day. If you're on the fence, definitely go. The spectacle alone is worth it. —LilyRosamond

2013-05-12 16:28:54   Honestly some of it is kind of creepy. People get wasted and high, the food is ridiculously expensive, and there's very little regulation and security. It's a very "spiritual" festival with people claiming they can solve your problems with a crystal (true story) or that if you drink this "elixer" you will be all better. Some of the activities are orgy-like. —AnBan