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Annual SmallFest connects students to UNC clubs and organizations

UNC students take part in the 2021 SmallFest, an adapted version of the FallFest tradition from years past, on Aug. 24. For many students, getting involved in campus organizations is a way of finding community.

SmallFest, UNC’s in-person student organizations involvement fair, will return this year during the second week of classes. The event will offer students the chance to learn more about getting involved with clubs and organizations on-campus.

The 2023 SmallFest will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1. Organizations will spread across the Pit, the Gift Plaza, the Davis Library patio and the front of Lenoir Dining Hall to advertise themselves to students. 

More than 350 student organizations will participate in this year’s fair — including performing arts, sports and recreation, academics and cultural organizations and fraternities and sororities.

Tori Holder, the associate director of communications and creative services for the Carolina Union, said in an email that SmallFest was first held in 2020 after FallFest — the traditional fall semester kickoff — was canceled due to COVID-19.

At the time, SmallFest was a series of virtual events that included student-produced recruitment videos and opportunities for the UNC community to meet organizations over Zoom. 

Alexis Moore, student organizations program coordinator for Student Life and Leadership, said separating the involvement fair from FallFest allowed students to effectively engage more with the organizations present.

“We found that keeping it in that style worked really well in the past and we've decided to keep it the same today,” Moore said.

While FallFest is what gets students excited for each upcoming academic year, Moore said SmallFest allows organizations to increase membership, communicate how becoming a member can enhance life on campus and share their future plans.

UNC senior Chloe Lind — vice president of Phi Alpha Delta, UNC’s co-ed pre-law fraternity — said she first learned about the organization at SmallFest during her sophomore year. While stopping at the fraternity’s table in the Pit, she said she met club officers and members, which led her to join the group.

“I think it is a really beneficial opportunity for the fraternity to showcase our presence on campus and interact with students — share information about our mission and goals and all the academic and social benefits of joining,” she said.

Lind also said the event’s small nature creates important visibility for clubs like PAD. 

She added that she enjoys how SmallFest provides more exposure than a single-day event would, and how hosting the event during the second week of classes gives new students the opportunity to settle in before joining clubs.

“I think at PAD, one of our goals is to have more visibility on campus, and SmallFest is a great opportunity for us,” Lind said.

This year, each day of the involvement fair will include up to 81 organizations tabling in the Pit area, Moore said.

There will also be a reward for students who visit organizations, she said. After checking off a SmallFest card at a certain number of tables, students will receive a treat from a Pelican’s SnoBalls truck.

“What [students] can expect is a lot of students wanting to grab their attention, wanting them to get excited about what their organization does for campus — why it's important, why it's needed and why they need students like them to become members,” Moore said.


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