Hundreds of students gathered in celebration of Stony Brook University’s’ 14th Annual Strawberry Fest and Diversity Day on Wednesday, May 2, during campus lifetime.

A total of 2,500 tickets were sold to students before and during the event, according to Lisa Ospitale, Director of Marketing for Campus Dining. Despite a few clouds, students spent the afternoon tasting unique strawberry recipes from 12 different stations and watching student group performances.

The tasting stations served up traditional favorites like Strawberries ‘To Go,’ Nachos with Strawberry Salsa, and Strawberry Shortcake. ‘You can’t have a strawberry fest without strawberries and shortcake,’ Ospitale said.

And that also goes for Strawberry Shortcake herself. Luigina Lantigua, a SAC employee, was dressed up in a Strawberry Shortcake costume while she had students take surveys about Campus Dining.

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This year saw some new options like the Strawberry Spinach Salad, Strawberry Ice Cream Truffles and a chocolate fountain for dipping strawberries. ‘You never think you could make so many things with strawberries,’ said Amy Yu, a sophomore and Health Science major.

The Strawberry Funnel Cake was one of the more popular options among students. ‘The funnel cake is unbelievable!’ said Heather Oakley, a junior and Marine Biology major.
They also offered some healthy options like the Organic Fruit Roll. ‘We’re trying to bring an organic presence to Stony Brook,’ said Richard Yorke, wellness food distributor for Ram Gourmet.

But the Strawberry Festival isn’t just about food. For the past seven years, the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action has held Diversity Day in collaboration with Strawberry Fest. ‘Our purpose is to celebrate the diverse culture within Stony Brook,’ said Management Intern Antonio Ferrantino.

In the past, about 35 organizations would sit at tables to represent themselves. This year the council chose to focus more on student performances in order to represent the different cultures on campus. ‘If we weren’t here,’ Ferrantino said, ‘Strawberry Fest would just be a food thing.”

Musical and dance performances were given by several groups including the Stony Brook Pep Band, Gospel Choir, Belly Dance Club, and the Thillana Dance Team who performed a dance called ‘Fusion’- a mix of Bollywood, modern, jazz and classical.’

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The Campus Awards Ceremony, another tradition at SBU, was also held later in the day.’ According to Ospitale, the action-packed day is known as ‘The Big Three.’

Strawberry Fest began in the End of the Bridge Restaurant 14 years ago with one or two stations of Strawberries ‘To Go.’ Throughout the years, the festival grew in popularity, and according to Executive Chef Leonard Ober, Campus Dining has sold up to 3,500 tickets in the past. ‘It became a campus tradition,’ Ospitale said.’

The festival is organized by all areas of Campus Dining. Director of Operations William Sallustro said it is a way for them to give back to the campus community, especially before finals week.’

‘I like how everyone comes together,’ Tanya Gorousingh, a junior English major said.’ ‘It’s a nice break before finals start,’ she said.’ She also said that it provides students with another opportunity to volunteer.

According to Ospitale, Campus Dining promoted the event all over campus. Advertising included posters and banners that were hung up in all the dining locations, information ‘table tents’ found on dining hall tables, and use of the electronic marketing screens found in Kelly Dining.

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Some students, however, felt the event wasn’t advertised enough. ‘I think there should be more advertising in H-Quad,’ said ShariMarie Rances, a junior Women’s Studies and French Language and Literature major. Others said they didn’t know
about the event until they passed by.

Students also had the opportunity to buy their tickets in advance for 50 cents cheaper.

Despite the large turnout, some students thought the festival was better in previous years. ‘Last year it was livelier,’ said Aisha Akhtar, a sophomore Biochemistry major. ‘The stations, the weather and the performances were better,’ she added.’ Kenny Eng, a senior Business major, said that he was enjoying this years’ festival but last years’ festival was bigger and there was a dodge ball tournament.

Overall, the event provided a sense of campus community. According to Kristin Kramss, a sophomore Environmental Studies major, there are not many activities on campus that bring everyone together.’ Ferrantino said that it is great when students and faculty of all different cultures are involved with campus activities together, and many students agreed that there should be more events like this. According to Jessica Tsang, a senior Chemistry major, ‘As long as it involves food, people will come out.’

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