Live music and the smell of fried food filled the air as Palo Alto College students welcomed visitors to PACFest April 25.
Each year, student organizations at Palo Alto come together to raise money for themselves by selling food and drinks, donated items or items handmade by students.
Visitors could buy food and drink tickets for 50 cents a piece. The tickets were for any purchases at the student organizations’ booths.
“Turn in the tickets at the end of the evening to a student life member and they basically count that up and refund us some of what we’ve spent,” said art sophomore Yeritzia Sat.
Sat was running the Art Club booth selling custom-made flower crowns and stickers.
“I really like that you get to meet people and have something in common, which is a love of art. Some people here don’t draw or paint; they just love … art,” Sat said about the Art Club.
Army National Guard recruiter Staff Sgt. Max Arellano assisted the National Guard booth by setting up a rock wall. He talked to visitors about the benefits of joining while going to school.
“One of the biggest things I hate hearing when I talk to kids is that they say they don’t want to join the military because they want to go to college,” Arellano said. “They don’t know all the reserve components that are out there that can help them do that.”
PACfest held its sixth annual Carne Asada Contest judged by Univision weather anchor Gabriel Torres, Spectrum News traffic anchor Tara Petitt, Marco Sepulveda representing Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant, KSAT 12’s Alicia Barrera and District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldana.
The teams that competed this year were Grill Sergeants, Team Sassafras, Beans and Rice, Pure Texan BBQ, Chitos BBQ, Puro TX, 3P, J’s Primetime BBQ, Grill Masters and Los Marranos Del Monte.
Veterinary technology senior Mariah Pena worked the Veterinary Technology Club booth selling dog and cat toys, blankets, bath bombs and homemade dog treats. The proceeds will fund the veterinary technology students’ exam fees.
“So, say a certain student made these blankets,” Pena said. “If that blanket gets sold then that will go towards her savings for her national and state exams.”
Every semester the two-year veterinary program adopts 12 dogs and 12 cats from a local shelter. Students in the program assess any medical diagnoses, provide vaccines, spay/neuter and prepare them for the end-of-semester adoption event.
Children filled the KidZone at PACfest.
Nathalie Riojas, a career adviser since 2016 for Palo Alto College, had been there since 7 a.m. setting up.
“It started getting busy around 4 p.m. and it is only getting busier,” Riojas said.
Jennifer Flores, the coordinator of the Child Development Center at Palo Alto College, said it was $5 per child for the KidZone. At most festivals it’s more than $5 for face-painting alone, she said. Paying to get into the KidZone included access to face painting, a train ride, four bouncy houses, balloons, earth day along with treats.
The plant station allowed children to pot plants, select seeds and gain knowledge to take care of the plant.
Ignacio Trevino, AmeriCorps Vista Healthy Hub coordinator at PAC, said not all families can afford to buy healthy food. He said he planned on teaching them how to grow their own.
“Our goal is to tell kids, you can have fresh fruits and veggies without the expense,” Trevino said. “We are trying to start them while they are young.”
Jazmin Castillo, a student at Palo Alto College and liberal arts sophomore at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, had volunteered there since the afternoon.
“A lot of kids have been coming to our station,” Castillo said.
The Horticulture Club sold plants they had planted themselves in their campus greenhouse. Price was dependent on pot size.
Horticulture sophomore Linda Morales was helping her organization raise money by identifying the different plants they were selling and providing tips on caring for the plants.
The Horticulture Club is responsible for the campus greenhouse, the community garden and the culinary garden where students are free to pick vegetables.
“Our goal is to help people reconnect with plants and to basically learn more about how plants and the health of our environment is beneficial to everybody,” Morales said.