Thurtene to feature diverse array of student performers, clubs

Carnival runs April 8-10; free parking available

Students fry funnel cakes at the 2014 Thurtene Carnival. This year, the carnival also will feature the dishes of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Egypt, Morocco and other cultures prepared by Welcome Neighbor STL volunteers and brownies baked by Washington University first-year student CraigAnthony Moore, a/k/a Chef Curry. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Any fair worth its funnel cakes boasts thrill rides, games of chance and food served on sticks. But only Thurtene Carnival at Washington University in St. Louis offers revelers the chance to enjoy Bhangra dance, dive deep into local skateboarding culture and indulge in iced red velvet brownies baked by a student chef.

“Hundreds of students from more than 35 student groups are excited to welcome the St. Louis community to our campus,” said Kathryn Reisner, member of the junior honorary Thurtene, host of the carnival since 1935. “There will be something for everyone, from music from WashU a cappella groups to grilled burgers from ZBT fraternity to sports challenges from the women’s crew team and the Rugby Club. There has never been a Thurtene this diverse.”

Thurtene Carnival runs from 4-8 p.m. April 8 and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. April 9 and 10 and will take place on the west end of the Danforth Campus near the Athletic Complex. Parking is free in university garages

Thurtene’s community partner is Welcome Neighbor STL, an organization that serves refugees and immigrants, many of whom will be at Thurtene to prepare and serve the dishes of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Egypt, Morocco and other cultures. Meals may be pre-ordered at Welcome Neighbor STL.

General admission is free. Ride tickets are available on site or at a discounted rate in advance. All-you-can-ride wristbands for Friday evening are $20.

Some of the other highlights include: 

WashU Bhangra 

WashU Bhangra performs at Diwali, weddings and cultural festivals.

Back from its impressive showing at national Taste of India dance competition, WashU Bhangra will wow crowds with its interpretation of Bhangra, a folk dance from the Indian state of Punjab. Traditionally performed in celebration of the harvest, Bhangra is colorful, rhythmic and energetic. 

“The energy is intense,” said senior Anish Bedi, a team captain. “Whether you are on stage or in the audience, the experience is exhilarating. The music, the moves — it can be very powerful and very graceful.” 

Bedi feels a special connection to Bhangra because his family is from Punjab. But that is not why he performs with WashU Bhangra.  

“It really is about the people. WashU Bhangra has become my second family,” said Bedi, a senior studying biomedical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering. “Whether we’re performing at a wedding or traveling to a competition, we have fun. We feed off the crowd’s energy and hopefully they feed off our adrenaline.” 

Other performers at Thurtene include a cappella acts WashU After Dark, The Pikers and More Fools Than Wise; the Bear Nation Varsity Band; Latin dance team WUFuego; and Poetic Sounds. 

Sweets from Chef Curry

Students love brownies baked by CraigAnthony Moore, a/k/a Chef Curry. (Courtesy photo)

First-year student CraigAnthony Moore, a/k/a Chef Curry, will be serving Oreo brownies with an Oreo center, Oreo crumble on top and buttercream icing as well as red velvet brownies with a cream cheese icing. 

“I’ve been developing my Oreo brownie recipe for years, and they are delicious,” Moore said. “And the red velvet brownies are perfectly moist and cakelike. People love them.” 

Moore also will be selling caramel cake from mentor Natalie DuBose, owner of Natalie’s Cakes and More, where Moore bakes his brownies.

Moore’s first customers were his classmates at McCluer High School in Ferguson. Students who did not like or have time to eat the school breakfast would buy his brownies for $1 a pop. He soon discovered he had a gift for baking and experimented with different ingredients like strawberries and various flours. Now he takes orders from hungry WashU students and recently baked a large Oreo cake for George Washington week. 

When Moore is not baking, he’s spinning ’90s R&B and old-school rap as DJ Uncle Craig. And when he’s not DJing, he’s managing his lawn care business. And when he’s not running his three businesses, he’s studying at Olin Business School.

“I have to sit down and really think about what I want to pursue,” Moore said. “I have more passions than I have time.”

WashU Skateboarding Club 

WashU Skateboard Club members Sesh Joe (left) and Nick Mueller will promote the local skateboarding scene at Thurtene. (Courtesy photo)

WashU Skateboarding Club founder Jacob Li is from San Diego, where skateboarding is a way of life, a form of creative expression and a mode of transportation. But St. Louis, Li has discovered, has its own unique skateboarding culture, one that club members hope to share with Thurtene visitors.

“We want to educate anyone who wants to learn about skateboarding — the different parts of the skateboard, the local skateparks in the area and philanthropic work we are doing to help Sk8 Liborius, a former church that is being converted into a skate park and urban arts center where young people can learn trades like woodworking and metallurgy,” Li said. “St. Louis has a really interesting DIY scene — people are getting things done with their own hands and that’s really cool.” 

Li grew up skateboarding but spent less and less time on his board as he developed new hobbies. Then COVID-19 hit. 

“I rediscovered how much I love it,” said Li, a junior studying economics in Arts & Sciences and finance at Olin Business School. “It’s a great exercise and a great individual sport, which served me well over the pandemic. And it’s a great excuse to get outside and see the world around you.” 

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