LAYTON -- Sixty or so students left the warmth of the Weber State-Davis building on Friday, and walked outside into the chilly sunshine, hoping to get some color.
WSU Davis on Friday held its third annual Color Fest, a smaller version of the annual Holi Color Festival in Spanish Fork, scheduled for next weekend.
"We got the idea from the Spanish Fork festival," said Alexis Marquez, event organizer and Davis campus student senate vice president. "But since we are students, we wanted to make ours free, and Spanish Fork is a little far for our students to drive."
The WSU-Davis southwest lawn was far more convenient. Brenda Banks, a health promotions student, noticed the Color Fest poster as she finished a test, and she decided to stay and maybe blow off some steam.
"I decided to check it out," said Banks, 33, of Layton. "I wanted to do Spanish Fork last year, but I got sick and couldn't go."
Lisa Blakeley, 43 and from Layton, brought her children, Nathan, 14, and Paige, 7.
"A lot of my friends in class were talking about it, but I think the weather kept them away," said Blakeley, pursuing a BIS (bachelors of integrated studies) in health administration, social work and psychology. "It sounded like so much fun, I wanted to bring the kids. We are here to ring in spring."
Students and community members started inside the campus building, at a buffet meal catered by Taste of India, owned by P.J. Singh.
"The color festival is just a fun celebration of the spring over winter, and good over bad," said Singh, who has provided food free for all three years. "It also gives the kids the experience of a different culture. We are living in a multicultural society, and it's good to learn so we don't have stereotypical preconceptions about each other."
Partiers spent two hours eating, listening to recorded Indian music, learning a dance, tie-dyeing T-shirts and getting henna temporary tattoos. About 6 p.m., revelers headed outside, into just-above-freezing temperatures and a brisk March wind.
They were given several small bags of highly pigmented powder. With encouragement from Singh, who did his best to start a fight, soon everyone began pelting everyone else with handfuls of powder, leaving rainbow streaks across shirts, pants, faces and hair. The colorful assault lasted 10 to 15 minutes.
"It was a great way to bring a culture to life," said a spotted and streaked Xavier Carden, 21, of Layton. "The food was great and the people were very diverse."
"It was awesome," she said. "We are all covered in color. We had a blast."
Banks was totally color coated, with barely a clue visible of what color clothing she had been wearing 20 minutes earlier. She peered over her green-powdered glasses, no longer transparent.
"It was just so much fun," she said. "My kids are going to freak out when they see me. First, they'll say, 'We thought you were taking a test, what the heck happened,' then they'll say, 'Why didn't you take us?' I will have to bring them next year."
Banks smacked her lips.
"This powder tastes weird," she said. "I don't know what it tastes like, but it's weird. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but it's hard not to smile when you're having so much fun."