Students line up along the academic mall for Strawberry Fest, where attendees ate strawberry-themed foods like mock strawberry margaritas and thyme-roasted turkey tacos with jalapeno-strawberry salsa. LUIS RUIZ DOMINGUEZ/THE STATESMAN

Thousands of students gathered on the Academic Mall on May 3 to celebrate one of Stony Brook’s biggest springtime traditions – Strawberry Fest.

The picture-perfect weather, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, helped the joyous ambiance as students spread out across the mall lawns, enjoying their strawberry treats before the stress of finals week kicked in.

Stephanie Sottile, a junior nursing major, said that her favorite food of the day was the thyme-roasted turkey tacos with jalapeno-strawberry salsa.

“It’s a really good way to bring the campus together, plus it was a really nice day,” she said, adding that this was her third time celebrating the event.

 

The menu also included strawberry shortcake, strawberry lemonade, strawberry-thyme potato gnocchi with buttery brie cream sauce and strawberry gelato. Campus Dining stated on the station’s label and on the festival tickets that the gelato was made from scratch, but employees were instead serving commercially-made Edy’s Grand strawberry ice cream from three-gallon tubs for much of the event.

Robert Hutnik, a senior biomedical engineering major, had rave reviews for the gnocchi. “I’m not a gnocchi person, but that was really good gnocchi,” he said.

Just after the 1 p.m. bell tolled from the Administration Building, a group of students chanted loudly as they marched through the mall in protest of the proposed cuts to Stony Brook’s Department of Theatre Arts. Protesting at the height of both Campus Life Time and the Strawberry Fest drew significant attention to the already large crowd. Students were canvassing the event seeking petition signatures for the remainder of Campus Life Time.

Tickets for Strawberry Fest sold out by 2 p.m., but staff remained busy serving the long lines of students. Sodexo’s District Manager Gary Arthur said that 3,380 pounds of strawberries were used for the estimated crowd of 3,000.

“From what I’ve heard people are saying, we’ve stepped it up this year,” Arthur said. The event cost Campus Dining “roughly $10 to $12 per person, but tickets were sold for $9, so there was a bit of a give back there,” he added.

Victoria Crowe, a sophomore athletic training major, noticed that this year’s crowd seemed bigger than in past years. Her favorite food of the day was the chocolate-dipped strawberries.

“I love chocolate and I love strawberries. They’re a perfect pair,” Crowe said.

Nearly 5,000 chocolate-dipped strawberries were distributed to students, according to Angela Agnello, the director of marketing and communications for the Faculty Student Association.

Happening alongside the Strawberry Fest in the mall was the 19th annual Diversity Day, organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The event celebrated Stony Brook’s different heritages, cultures and lifestyles with student music and dance performances as well as creative art, cultural expression and trivia.

Vincent Giacalone, a freshman French major, is going to have to wait until next year to experience both events in their fullest. “I went to get a ticket and they were all out,” he said. “I saw the commotion and heard there was a lot of good food.”