As the sun set on Wilbur Field 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 stalls for student artists, organizations and small businesses.
On the west side of the field, crowds of excited students in summer clothing 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 the Stanford Improvisers, musicians such as Charlie Kogen ’26 and outside performers such as Cello Joe. Long lines also formed on the east side as students took advantage of tarot readings, massages and caricature drawings.
Although many people came for the food trucks, the heavy foot traffic provided the student artists with plenty of customers for their art prints, stickers, jewelry, hand-knitted clothing and snack bags.
“People have actually been buying from us … which is amazing and unexpected,” said artist Melissa Rahn ’24, who was selling prints at the Stanford Storyboard Club booth.
For some artists, SunSet Fest was the first time they sold their creations. “I’ve never been able to perform like this, so I really appreciate the opportunity to do something like this,” said Lisa Ing ’26, selling sticker sheets of her cartoon rat and duck design.
The festival also gave organizations like the Taiwan Cultural Society a chance to promote their club in a way that directly engaged students with their culture.
“We’re a pretty small organization,” said Matt Hsu ’26, a member of the organization. “It’s always nice for people to see that we have a Taiwanese cultural society on campus.” While the organization sold snack packs of Taiwanese treats, the booth also gave them an opportunity to inform students about the upcoming Night Market on May 13.
This year, Residential Education (ResEd) is funding one campus-wide 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, local grantees and professional staff. Pat Lopez Harris, Stanford’s senior director of communications, said in an email to The Daily that the council specifically wants to “emphasize student art and performance in a fun, relaxed and informal environment.”
ResEd received feedback on the implementation of the neighborhood system – specifically how neighborhood council funds are allocated and when events are scheduled. Students at Fizz criticized the seeming lack of communication between neighborhoods as the big-budget events were planned one after the other. Neighborhood S held SunSet Fest on Thursday, just before Neighborhood R’s Carnival on Friday and Neighborhood D’s Carnival on Saturday.
One popular post on Fizz a few days after the festival read: “Board admin is nasty whose idea it was to approve 3 carnival/major neighborhood programs on the same day…aren’t they talking to each other?” The post garnered over 2.3k votes for.
While not everyone thought the neighborhood system deserved praise for the event, some student vendors shared a positive view of its implementation. 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 opportunities like this, both here and at the farmers markets that Stanford has started to open up to student businesses,” Grekin said.
Student vendor Christina Qin ’24 said, “The Neighborhood system sucks, but this event is the type of event that’s open to everyone.” As a result, she added, “It allows people to support the little people… I hope that things like this happen every year because it’s great.”