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What is FallFest? The event to return this August for the first time in two years

FallFest 2017

Students gather on Hooker Fields for FallFest in 2017.

FallFest will return in person this year on Sunday, Aug. 14, after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and inclement weather, respectively.

The annual event, hosted by the Carolina Union, brings together UNC students to kick off the new school year.

This year, FallFest will include a dance party in the Pit, student organization performances and music performances. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about campus, get free items and make connections.

Victoria Boykin, associate director for event services at the Carolina Union, said there will also be food vendors.

Both incoming and returning Tar Heels will be able to engage with academic departments and student organizations at the event. 

Sarah Levine-Ingebretson, student activities program coordinator at the Carolina Union, said this year, instead of taking place on Hooker Fields, FallFest will be mainly located at the Carolina Union, with events happening all over campus.

“It still offers that component of being able to bring the Carolina community together to have fun,”  Boykin said. “I mean, that’s really what it’s about.”

McKenzie Martin, a rising senior at UNC, attended FallFest as a first-year student in 2019.

"I would describe it as my first experience as a student that felt so stereotypically college," Martin said. "It was like college in the movies."

Martin said FallFest was overwhelming in a fun way, and that it's how she found out about club field hockey, boxing club and the sustainability club, all of which she later joined. 

She also said it was a good way to meet upper-level students.

“In high school, there’s like a really intimidating dynamic about being a freshman and the upperclassmen you think are so mean and you’re kind of worried college is gonna be like that,” Martin said. “But then I got to FallFest and I was kind of like, oh my god, everyone’s so nice and welcoming.”

FallFest occurs after New Student Convocation each year, and this fall will be the 27th time UNC has held the event.

“I think it’s just really the experience, the first night before classes start and students are still looking for their communities and making friends and you never know where you’re gonna meet that first group of friends whether it’s your residence hall or it could be at FallFest,”  Levine-Ingebretson said.

Levine-Ingebretson said that activities will take place at several places including Campus Recreation, the Carolina Union and the Bell Tower. 

Full-time Carolina Union staff plan FallFest and student staff work it and assist in planning.

“I think that one of the positive impacts of spreading FallFest out across campus is that the focus is more on having fun and less about being inundated by hundreds of student organizations all at once on Hooker Fields,”  Levine-Ingebretson said. “What I really think is a positive change is that students get to experience different parts of campus at the very beginning.”

Levine-Ingebretson added that there will also be a gaming space with video games and a virtual reality set up in the Underground, which is on the first floor of the Carolina Union.

“I just love seeing everybody have fun,” Levine-Ingebretson said. “I love seeing students interact, I love seeing their hands full of free stuff and just enjoying the experience and making new friends.”

The Carolina Union is still recruiting student organizations for performances. Students can find updated information here.

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