Haj performs with his band as the crowd watches and dances along at the Manifest mainstage Friday afternoon, May 12, 2023.
Columbia’s annual end-of-the-year festival kicked off Friday with ecstatic visitors and accomplished students despite the early gloom and light rain.
Manifest took over multiple blocks of Wabash Avenue and its cross streets on May 12, transforming empty parking lots and streets into a giant community block party with live music, steamroller printmaking, a skate ramp and inflatable slide. Earlier in the day, departments hosted senior showcases, award ceremonies, fashion shows, film and TV productions and art exhibits.
Naiyah Mills, a junior film major, didn’t go last year, “so I wanted to experience what Manifest was all about, all the activities and everything that they had going on.” They spent time at the Main Stage area, where visitors could decorate cowboy hats and play games.
Located on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Balbo Street, ManiFresh was hosted by the Hip-Hop Studies program. There were activities like radio interviews, tooth gems and live graffiti art.
Senior music major Ondrea Contreras, known as “Drea C” on stage, serenaded the audience in the rain to a cover of Daniel Caesar’s “Get You.” Contreras performed on the ManiFresh stage with guitarist Tony Klacz, a senior.
Contreras was on the board that planned Manifest, and when another performer dropped out of the festival at the last minute, she volunteered to fill the performance slot.
In addition to her cover of “Get You,” Contreras sang original songs “Medusa” and “Do Me Wrong” to end her set. “I’m a performer on the side and I was more behind the scenes, but I’m always prepared,” Contreras said.
The festival was set up with four different music stages, each with its own daylong schedule of student and guest performances.
At “the Garden,” hosted in the square at 11th and Wabash Avenue, Liliana Pulido y Los Caballeros captivated its audience with their Latin guitar and trumpet playing.
“There were construction workers here earlier, and we were playing our stuff and imagine working all day and hearing the music that you like,” said Diego Lucero, a transfer music business student and bassist of the group.
“This is my first Manifest; it’s cool seeing all these artists and cool that they have this platform for other people,” he added.
The Theatre Department also hosted a few presentations, one being the combat event. This showcased selected choreographed scenes done by students studying stage combat.
Each scene would start with a dialog leading up to a battle, and depending on the scenario, the weapons used would vary from swords to staffs and daggers.
Back outside, the mainstage saw over a dozen live performances. Student artists like Haj and Liam Taylor saw large crowds listening to their music, with the band Superdime, this year’s Biggest Mouth winner, preceding the festival’s headliner, Manwolves.
Amid the music, students and visitors enjoyed club-hosted games and tables.
So far Manifest “seems to be going pretty smoothly, ” said Colin Gaines, a junior acoustics major and president of the Student Athletics Association. He said that “seeing everything come together and happen” was the most rewarding part of helping to plan the festival.