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Western's first Femme Fest brings in all womxn artists

To highlight womxn’s talent and resources, the Associated Students wanted to do something more than a show. Jonah Falk, senior and AS pop music coordinator and Bri Broadwater, AS music and entertainment marketing coordinator, collaborated on the idea of Femme Fest. ‘Women’ is spelled with an ‘x’ rather than an ‘e’ to better include those of femme identity, trans-women and women of color. “We were trying to figure out how to put on something that was going to promote womxn in music, but also hit on womxn’s health,” Falk said. “We had a lot of different iterations of the idea and [Femme Fest] is what stuck.”

“I think society so often tells us who we have to be but we don’t have to be anything other than ourselves.”

  Femme Fest, a free celebration of femme identity, womxn's talent and womxn’s rights, showcased female acts and informational health booths. AS Productions, The Womxn’s Center and KUGS held the event in the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room Friday, March 3. Falk, also a musician, has experience with booking shows in downtown Bellingham and Seattle. Falk said he either knew or had seen the performers featured at Femme Fest.
Falon Sierra performing. // Photo by Jade Thurston
“When looking back at a lot of the lineups pop music coordinators in the past have curated, it’s been very male-centric,” Falk said. “This year I wanted to make it a goal to make sure that wasn’t going to happen again.”   Performers during the night were all female. Roughly 70 people gathered around to watch KREEA, Falon Sierra, Guayaba and ParisAlexa. While each performance brought style to the stage, headliner ParisAlexa, 18, interacted with the crowd by emphasizing teenage angst. “There’s just a lot of inner turmoil that’s building up,” ParisAlexa said. “My only way to express that is through songwriting and performance, so that’s how I get it out.” As a vocal loop artist, ParisAlexa’s music mixes melodies and lyrics with organic and electronic sounds. Her next album is about embracing individuality. “I think society so often tells us who we have to be but we don’t have to be anything other than ourselves,” ParisAlexa said. “As an artist, oftentimes people try to put me in a box, but I have all these other styles and so much more to say.”
ParisAlexa sings on stage. // Photo by Jade Thurston Femme
In between performances, the audience could walk around and check out the 11 different booths which featured topics such as mental and reproductive health. The Womxn’s Center, The Womxn’s Council, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, Bellingham Girls Rock Camp and Free the Toiletry Club were among the featured tables. AS Womxn's Center Coordinator Nova Clark reached out to all the organizations, seeing if they would want a table at Femme Fest. Since becoming an official club fall quarter, Free the Toiletry was glad to have a booth set up. Free the Toiletry is working to make menstruation products free in all campus bathrooms. As of now, the club is still in the early stages of asking for input on their ideas. Students passing by discussed the booth’s goals. The club asked for written thoughts and comments on the issue of free toiletries. Danielle Freyer, a business management senior, is one of the club’s leaders.
Guayaba performing // Photo by Jade Thurston
“We are really happy we [tabled at Femme Fest] because we got so many people interested,” Freyer said. “Before we couldn’t gauge the interest because no one was showing up to our meetings.”   Broadwater and Falk hope to make Femme Fest an annual tradition at Western, but since they are seniors, it will depend on the decision of next year’s new staff. “[Femme Fest] gives us an opportunity to shine a light on things that we also care about,” Broadwater said. “I really do hope that they chose to continue it [and] I’ll come back up here if they do.”

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