As the spring warmth and greenery returns to campus this month, it brings with it hordes of prefrosh, those pesky Usdan bees, and the triumphant reappearance of everyone’s (save for maybe President Roth) favorite perma-stoned cartoon, Doonesbury’s Zonker Harris. Enter the day that bears his name, Zonker Harris Day, a exuberant celebration of spring, sweet tunes, turned-in theses, and all those adorably confused prefrosh.

Zonker Harris Day, as most Wesleyan students know and the uninitiated are about to learn, is the highly anticipated spring music and arts festival named after the laid-back, drug-loving bro from Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip, a namesake that caused the event a little bit of trouble in the early days of Michael Roth’s presidency. This year, the event will take place on Saturday, April 14 in the WestCo courtyard, and will provide all of the energy and aplomb that Wesleyan students have come to love in their own collegiate bacchanalia.
The festival, which this year has been tirelessly organized by WestCo presidents Nina Gerona ’15, Sam Oriach ’15, Ellen Lesser ’15, and Isaac Pollan ’15, will feature performances by student musicians and Brooklyn-based sunshine-purveyors Tanlines, an art festival organized by sophomore George Gore ’14, and $8 t-shirts. Additionally, the Whey Station will make an appearance by the picnic tables outside WestCo 1 to attend to all student cravings.
Music, the centerpiece of Zonker Harris Day, will be provided by a host of student bands, as well as experimental pop duo Tanlines, whose debut album Mixed Emotions was released this past March. The pairing consists of Jesse Cohen, known for his work in the band Professor Murder, and Eric Emm, a former member of the math-rock titans Don Caballero and Storm & Stress. The duo has played with Yeasayer, HEALTH, and Delorean, and has opened for The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas on multiple occasions.
The student bands performing include Northpaw (Nate Repasz ’14, Zack Kantor ’15, Gabe Beaudoin ’15, Eriq Robinson ’15, Sean Winnik ’14, Mikah Feldman-Stein ’15, Dan Light ’14, and Sam Sontag ’14) and Yeoman’s Omen (Nate Repasz ’14, Gabe Greenberg ’14, Noah Rush ’14, Julian Gal ’14).
As far as what to expect from the latter, Yeoman’s Omen drummer Respaz said, “[We are] four scuba suit-wearing treasure-hunters [who] play lo-fi Carnatic indie navel-gaze jazz funk punk.”
Also included is Treasure Island (Faith Harding ’14, Dema Paxton-Fofang ’13, Tobias Butler ’13, Jason Katzenstein ’13), who promise the National Anthem. They say, “[There will be] the sensation of jumping into a jacuzzi right after having rolled around in the snow.”
Peace Museum (Casey Feldman ’12, Gil Sunshine ’12, Daniel Quinn, and Brendan Picone), and the the newly-renamed Grand Cousin (Henry Hall ’14, Robbie Caplan ’14, and Evan Low ’14) are set to pump out some breezy and high-spirited jams, with the latter promising to “personally high-five every single person in the audience.”
Featherwood Bee (Kelly Lee ’14, John Ryan ’14, Adam Johnson ’14, Ben Gottesman ’14) rounds out the rest of the acts. The music at the event is not the only thing that makes Zonker Harris Day special, however.
As Treasure Island’s Butler put it, “You might not find [insert Spring Fling headliner] in the WestCo courtyard this Saturday, but the atmosphere of a Zonker Harris Day cannot be beat. Expect audacious amenities, auspicious aural acrobats, and amusing attendees.”
Not to be outdone, Gore ’14 seeks to bring a more visual element to the springtime festivities.
“The nature of [the show] is really relaxed, and I organized it to add an arts element to the festival that I felt was lacking,” said Gore, who organized the event. “I think people like having art to look at, and I think that a lot of people are looking for a non-gallery setting within which to show their pieces to a totally non-judgmental community. The show isn’t organized within a theme, just art from the people I can find that want to show it.”
According to Gore, the lounge will host pieces ranging from drawing to digital art, which will provide another dimension to the lively artistic verve that keeps Zonker Harris Day so close to Wesleyan students’ hearts.
With all parties involved so excited about the upcoming festival, it would seem wholly inappropriate for the rest of the student body not to feel the same. As anxious prefrosh flood the campus and seniors spend their last spring among the people and buildings that have defined the past four years of their life, Zonker Harris Day stands as a testament to the energy and spirit that makes Wesleyan such a vibrant and ebullient community. With the semester drawing to a close, this year’s Zonker Harris Day stands out as a chance to remind every student, every prospective student, and every other category of person lucky enough to be in earshot why this is the best time of year to be a Cardinal.

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