UT Celebrates Its Wild Variety Of Student Groups At Forty Acres Fest (Slideshow)

As the Student Events Center hosted its annual Forty Acres Fest over the weekend — set against a giant Texas flag that must be the biggest in the world — more than 100 different student groups celebrated their school spirit and enticed students and Austinites with food, drink, and a wild assortment of activities.

It was amazing to see just how many groups set up booths at the all-day event. In the grass by the flagpoles and down on the mall, giant inflatable mountains and obstacle courses offered students the chance to feel 5 years old again.

As at any good festival worth its free admission, it was impossible to not be inundated with offers of homemade food and drinks. There were the requisite hot dogs and barbeque, but the ethnic-based student groups provided the most exploration. Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish dishes were served, rarely for more than five dollars. Though I was hesitant to eat my Chinese lemonade with a spoon (there’s a lot of fruit in Chinese lemonade, apparently), it was refreshing relief on such a humid day.

At one point a girl ran down the mall yelling that “S’mores save lives!” I failed to catch which group she was with, but I’m confident they saved lives Saturday.

Then there was the Ayn Rand Objectivism booth, which was manned by two men who didn’t even look like students. I did admire their moxie, however, when one of them gave the entire John Galt speech from Atlas Shrugged. Four hours never went by so quickly.

But my personal favorite was the Texas 4000 booth. Besides standing for a great cause supporting cancer research, several members were decked out in their cycling uniforms. I am convinced that cyclists are constantly looking for ways to wear spandex at any excuse.

The theme of this year’s Forty Acres Festival was “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” At one point several organizers got up on the stage set up on the stairs to the Tower and asked festival-goers for other state suggestions with the “Everything’s ‘blank’ in ‘blank’ template. Unfortunately, I was too far from the stage to suggest “Everything’s relative in West Virginia.”

There were performances throughout the day, including the Ransom Notes and the evening’s headliner, Big Boi.

But my personal favorite moment came when I saw a man in a wizard’s robe with a large walking stick (magical staff?) playing a giant lawn version of checkers. On the stomach of the robe was an ad for Zen Japanese food.

Forty Acres Fest was everything that makes this university so interesting. There were people representing every corner of campus relaxing, sharing in their experiences and food. In between it all was Chinese lemonade, John Galt, and spandex.

Jonathan Rienstra is a junior majoring in journalism.

Photos by Iris Camille Claudio.


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