Due to Saturday’s heavy rain, the university’s Fall Fest closed at noon, putting a damper on student organization fundraising. The festival’s eighth year closed out with more boom than bang.
On campus Saturday morning, thunder echoed and rain came down as students, faculty, staff and community members filled the cafeteria to hear the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by MBA graduate student Ralph Wright, which kicked off this year’s Fall Fest.
Despite the wet weather, some student organizations arrived on campus to raise funds for their members, but other groups canceled before the event began. The Kinesiology Club, the Society of Professional Journalists and MASA were among the few organizations that showed up.
Fall Fest wasn’t the only event affected by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia as it pushed through South Texas. Events across the city shut down due to the rain including Luminaria, a contemporary arts festival. The safety of event goers was a priority for organizers.
“Our main concern was safety for our guests. We wanted to make sure everyone was going to get home safe,” said Hoyt Garner, Campus Activities Board president. “That’s why we ended Fall Fest early.”
Last year, students sold 7,100 tickets, totaling $14,200, at Fall Fest, according to Cheryl Le Gras, director of student activities.
Rain and road closures definitely caused a decrease in earnings, club officers said.
“The weather did affect Fall Fest. This event helps the organization raise money and we’re not going be able to raise as much,” said Kathryn Pearl the Chief of MASA, a new student organization on campus. “There’s no other event like this throughout the year so we missed out.”
Fall Fest organizers don’t know exactly what was lost by weather and early closure. This year’s event moved to a different system where participants paid directly at the booths, as opposed to buying tickets.
By moving to this system, there is no way to gauge exactly how bad the weather cost student clubs this year.
Garner said there were more than 27 vendors signed up before Fall Fest began. Of those, 13 were food vendors. Walking into the Central Academic Building that day though only a fraction showed up.
Local resident Gabriel Avideo braved the weather with his family to attend Fall Fest, if only for a short time.
“We were originally supposed to go to the Chemistry Festival at A&M-College Station, but due to the weather we decided to stay,” Aviedo said. “I knew this event was happening because we always attend the school events. The kids have fun and the food is delicious.”
Fall Fest set out with the best of intentions, not just to raise club funds, but also give students the opportunity to spread awareness about their organizations. Campus Activities will hold a Fall Fest After Action Meeting for student organizations on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in CAB, Suite 218.
Art Olague, director of Rec Sports, planned competitions that awarded winners a pumpkin. Rec Sports created their own pumpkin patch for the festival.
“You can decorate it and take it home, or decorate it and take it to the slingshot,” Olague said. “The slingshot was set to launch the pumpkins into an open field behind the Central Academic Building.
Olague’s aim for the pumpkin slingshot was not just an empty field, but also, the target of creating a new yearly tradition
“My hope is that it becomes a tradition,” he said. “That it evolves into students building their own slingshots, and that it will continue on every year as the way to close Fall Fest.”
He was quick to add that you would not just get a pumpkin for participation, but that it would be a competition.
Unfortunately, those pumpkins never made it outside to the slingshot. In fact, with the prediction of rain early in the week, slinging pumpkins was one of the first activities to go.
Fall Fest is one of the biggest events students fundraise at during the semester, but it’s more than just the money.
As a growing university with many new clubs on campus some go just to get their name out there. This was the case for Rec Sports who provided all of their activities free of charge.
“We really want to get some exposure and provide some fun and memorable experiences,” Olague said.