Approximately 25,000 students strolled up and down South Road to take part in the University’s biggest welcome-back event, enjoying free food and clear skies.
This year’s FallFest, an annual Week of Welcome event that offers hundreds of clubs and organizations the chance to publicize their work and recruit new students, took place without a single drop of rain, despite a forecast that had organizers worried .
approximate amount spent on the 2013 FallFest
amount spent on the 2011 FallFest
number of students in attendance at the 2013 FallFest
Last year, FallFest was cancelled due to rain, so this time around both freshmen and sophomores were able to experience the event for the first time.
Lauren Sacks, assistant director of student learning at the Student Union, said at any given time in the evening roughly 14,000 students could be found at the event.
Sacks said between $60,000 and $70,000 was spent on security, labor and production costs. She said the Student Union did not spend money on food or a considerable amount on vendors — all of the food provided was donated.
In 2011, the Student Union spent $54,000 on the event.
Karen Cunningham, director of marketing and special events at Campus Recreation, said student turnout this year was more than she anticipated.
“The campus rec had over 2,000 people join our listserv,” Cunningham said. “Honestly, I was only expecting 1,200 students to join — a number which we far exceeded.” Cunningham said Campus Recreation was able to give away $7,000 in “swag” prizes.
“Personally, it is one of my favorite events at the University,” she said. “It’s just so great to see new students at FallFest and to see the excitement it generates.”
She said she thought the event was a huge success because the turnout not only benefitted new students, but clubs and vendors as well.
In response to last year’s cancellation of FallFest, the organizing committee that would move the event inside of Fetzer Hall gyms A and B in the event of rain.
Sacks said she was glad the backup plan wasn’t put into action.
“While it would have been great to be able to give the opportunity (to attend FallFest) to student groups — rain or shine — (and) to tell others about co-curricular possibilities, the indoor nature of the event would have limited the scope, and the event is just such a great one to have outside,” she said in an email.
Kathleen Hayes, president of Students for Students International, said the club — along with many other campus groups — had difficulty recruiting members last year in the wake of FallFest’s cancellation.
Hayes said the club had to spend more time reaching out to students and establishing personal relationships to attract enough members.
“It was difficult to recruit members because students weren’t coming out and seeking us,” Hayes said. “We had to find alternative ways to reach students.”
But Hayes said the group was able to reach at least 140 students at FallFest. She said she was surprised at the number of juniors who joined their listserv.
“It’s nice to see that even upperclassmen were interested in joining new organizations,” Hayes said. “That’s what is great about FallFest, everyone has the chance to explore and expand their interests.”
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