SunSet Fest: A bright opportunity for student artists

April 23, 2023, 10:03 p.m.

As the sun set on Wilbur Field on Thursday, Neighborhood S held its first-ever SunSet Fest — a jam-packed outdoor event with a variety of attractions including food trucks, live performances and wellness groups. The evening also featured booths for student artists, organizations and small businesses.

On the west side of the field, crowds of excited students in summer wear waited in long lines for food trucks and tents. Attendees mingled in the center, where a stage featured live performances by student groups such as Stanford Improvisors, musicians like Charlie Kogen ’26 and outside performers like Cello Joe. Long lines also formed on the east side as students availed themselves of tarot readings, massages and caricature drawings.

While many people came for the food trucks, the ample foot traffic provided student creators with plenty of customers for their art prints, stickers, jewelry, hand knit clothing and snack bags. 

“People have actually been buying us out… which is amazing and unexpected,” said artist Melissa Ran ’24, who was selling prints at the Stanford Storyboard Club’s booth.

For some artists, SunSet Fest was their first time selling their creations. “I’ve never been able to put myself out like this, so I really appreciate having the opportunity to do something like this,” said Lisa Ing ’26, selling sticker sheets of her cartoon rat and duck character designs.

The festival also gave organizations like the Taiwanese Culture Society a chance to publicize their club in a way that directly engages students with their culture.

“We’re a pretty small organization,” Matt Hsu ’26, a member of the organization, said. “It’s always nice for people to see that we have a Taiwanese Cultural Society on campus.” While the organization sold snack packs with Taiwanese treats, the booth also gave them a chance to inform students about their upcoming May 13 Night Market.

This year, Residential Education (ResEd) is funding one all-campus event for each of Stanford’s Neighborhoods. SunSet Fest has been in the works since fall quarter, planned by the Neighborhood S Community Council of students, resident fellows and professional staff. Pat Lopes Harris, Stanford’s Senior Director of Communications, said in an email to The Daily that the council specifically wanted to “highlight student art and performance in a fun, relaxed, and informal environment.”

ResEd has received backlash for the implementation of the Neighborhood system — specifically, how the neighborhood council funds have been allocated and when events have been scheduled. Students on Fizz criticized the seeming lack of communication between neighborhoods as high-budget events were slated back to back. Neighborhood S held SunSet Fest on Thursday, shortly before the Neighborhood R Carnival on Friday and the Neighborhood D Carnival on Saturday.

One popular Fizz post a few days after the fest read, “Neighborhood Admin fucking suck, whose idea was it to approve 3 carnival/big neighborhood programs on the same day… do they not talk to each other?” The post has netted over 2.3k upvotes.

While not everyone thinks the neighborhood system deserves to be commended for the event, some student vendors shared a positive sentiment regarding its execution. Rebecca Grekin Ph.D. ’25, owner of Re-becca Jewelry, a handmade eco-friendly jewelry business, commented on how these events have helped revitalize her business. 

“I started doing this business in middle school, and it’s been great to rekindle it with these sorts of opportunities, both here and at the farmers markets Stanford has started opening to student businesses,” Grekin said.

Student vendor Christina Qin ’24 said, “the Neighborhood system sucks, but this event is the kind of event that is open to everyone.” As a result, she added, “it lets people support the small people… I hope this kind of thing happens every year because it’s awesome.” 

Kristofer Nino is a writer for the Arts & Life section. contact arts 'at'

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