Wilburfest '93, courtesy of Jen, UD '93The statistic I found for '93, was that 1800 pre-paid buttons sold out in two weeks…without it even being advertised. All word-of-mouth. Then there were 1200 more admissions at the door, and then add in all the other people who I guess snuck in or whatever, the estimated total was over 5000 stuffed in and From The Review, and way beforebody paint was common.Shot by Jonathan Holladaaround that backyard. At the time, it was believed to have been the biggest Wilburfest crowd ever. At one point during the day, you could only enter if someone else left, and you’d have to wait in line to be readmitted. Though, one individual that probably got right in was…
Some chick was walking around topless at Wilburfest, with flowers painted on her boobs. I didn’t see it myself, but yeah, a shot of her ran in The Review. I remember the next week in one of my art classes, my friend Mike telling me, “I saw her from a distance, and thought, ‘That’s a really interesting shirt.’ Turned out, it wasn’t a shirt at all.”
I hung out on Wilbur Street starting in late high school (1987) as I grew up in Newark. My earliest memories of Wilbur Street stemmed from parties at Foxcroft that would spill over onto Wilbur. That area was really just one big party spot. The beautiful thing was that you could walk into almost any apartment in Foxcroft, and there would be a party going on in some way or another. Nobody really left their doors locked, either. Most of the people living there were young college kids taking classes, or people off from a Dead tour.
You never really had to leave the neighborhood to get whatever you needed; everything was right there. I moved into 108 Wilbur my junior year of college in 1991, and stayed there pretty much through 1993…at least those were the years that I was paying rent. Even after I moved out into 67 East Cleveland with Charlie, our best friends still lived on Wilbur Street.
My favorite memory of Wilbur was when we had a party to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of LSD. About thirty people ended up drawing and creating murals all over our walls, including a gigantic mushroom that covered the entire ceiling of our first floor. Our landlord was speechless! He had no idea how creative and artistic we Wilburites could be; he failed to see the genius of it all. I don't recall how the walls got back to normal, but I know it wasn't us who fixed it. I bet if you scrape several layers of paint off of those walls, you can still see a glimpse of what we created that night.
Yeah, if it weren't for Angie’s (which later became Wilbur Street Deli), most of us would've starved to death. Sitting about ten steps from my front door, it saved us the trouble of having to, heaven forbid, leave Wilbur Street. My friend's dad owned it and we would go there for just about every meal. The next best thing would've been delivery or cooking something ourselves...and that was just dangerous.
I remember people showing up at Wilburfests in the early '90s, saying that it had been going on for as long as I was alive. One older guy in particular had pulled up to my house on a motorcycle, and told me that he was around when they first started it. I can't recall the date he said, but I was under the impression that he was talking about the early '70s! That would be the earliest mention of when it started. It hadn’t always been a fundraiser; just a big party that needed to have a purpose after a while in order to survive, I think.
I attended Wilburfest from 1989 to 1994, and organized it in '93 with a guy named Ross. Nobody else wanted to do it except Ross and me. The year before had been a bit of a disaster because there were lots of problems going on with the way certain things were being handled. I took the responsibility on because I didn't want to see that happen again. I'm also a bit of a control freak.
The line for Wilburfest '93, stretching down East Cleveland. Courtesy of Jen, UD '93We ran out of buttons halfway into the festival, and decided to make multi-colored glass beaded friendship pins for those who didn't get a chance to buy a button and wanted to come in. We sold these at the door for $5 a piece. As soon as one hour after we started selling them, people were coming up with fake ones, trying to get in. Amazing how fast news travels in Newark. The cost of everything was over $10,000, so you can imagine it took a lot of heads to counter those costs. One newspaper said there were probably about 2000 people that showed up that day, but I estimated more like 5000. The money went directly to the Emmaus House, a homeless shelter in Newark. We ended up raising $13,600 profit, almost twice as much as they raised the year before.
Courtesy of Jen, UD '93Coming up with the button designs and band line-ups was like pulling teeth. These things were all pretty much voted on by the residents of Wilbur Street, or I should say, the few that actually showed up at my house. We had a few meetings here and there, to make decisions like who should play and when, and that really helped since Ross and I didn't want to be the only ones calling all the shots. The bands in 1993 were Railhed, Monterey Popsicle, The Nazarites, Grinch, Mother Nature’s Blacklight Rainbow (formerly FireTribe), Jupiter Green, ONE, and schroeder. There was a lot of riff-raff about who would be playing first, headlining, which stage to be on, etc. That was a bit tough deciding, but it all turned out great!
Logistics for getting permission, permits, police patrols, port-a-potties, and other unmentionable p-words was hectic and frustrating, but just a lot of red tape that got sorted out. I also had to get a liability insurance policy that protected us, just in case anything happened. Wilburfest was notorious for attracting the people that things just happened to. I watched one guy crawl out on the fire escape of one house, fall two stories onto the driveway, bounce, and get up and walk around after that.
The Nazarites at Wilburfest '93,courtesy of Ross, UD '93My favorite memories of Wilburfest? Definitely when Steve Bailey from Grinch got up on stage and played with Joe Ambrosino from Monterey Popsicle, that was awesome! I remember watching them from the roof of Foxcroft a few years before. There were about 50 of us up there, looking down on the backyard of Wilbur…someone was kind enough to lug a nitrous tank up there, too. There were literally so many people, that you couldn't see the ground, grass, or gravel anywhere you looked. My all-time favorites were Grinch and The Nazarites. I lived with a few of the Grinch guys for most of my college years, and still couldn't get enough of them.
Courtesy of Jen, UD '93
“I went to three Wilburfests, the last one being in 1993. All I can remember from that year (besides eating something very strange) is Mother Nature’s set. They rocked, I made it to the stage via crowd surfing, hi-fived the band, then dove back in the crowd. What a great time that Wilburfest was!”
- Edward P, UD '93
“Wilburfest was awesome, especially since our next door neighbor Charlie was so involved with the Wilbur crew. It was an incredible party / concert put on by students for a good cause. It was also a great time for live music in general, and Newark had its own scene of bands playing original material; Grinch for the most part, and FireTribe / Mother Nature.
Being on the lacrosse team always seemed to be a problem. I remember on the day of Wilburfest, we lost to Penn State in the morning, and then I took off from the locker room to catch Mother Nature's set. I ended up hyper-extending my knee in the mosh pit. I had to lie to the trainers on Monday about how I hurt it.”
- Chris, UD '96
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