Expectations on the rise for Fall Fest 2016: SPB shares the process and a preview of Canisius’ festivities scheduled for this weekend

By Sydney Bucholtz

Assistant Features Editor

Cars form condensation in the early morning before class.  Bright auburn leaves crunch and snap under students’ feet.  Hot coffee cups are everywhere in sight, and evidently so are the aesthetically-pleasing pictures of them.  Suddenly, papers that were lackadaisically overlooked from the start of syllabus week are starting to become more important to remember.  The air is filled with that type of scent that can’t be described, but is suddenly apparent around the end of September.  The kaleidoscopic colors, sights, and sounds indicate that it’s just about that time of year once again.

These shifting features in the lives of Canisius students are also accompanied by other staples of the coming season:  Fall Fest and Homecoming Weekend.  Daniel Ortega, the Special Events Coordinator for the Student Programming Board, described Fall Fest to The Griffin.  “The event has substantially grown every year.  Four years ago, it was in Palisano and had a few activities with maybe 200 attendees.  This year, we are expecting between 900-1,000 people to attend,” he shared.  “I would describe Fall Fest as an interactive event allowing students to take a break from studying and work to enjoy the fun, other side of college. It is an opportunity to make memories with your friends during your college career.”

These memories, in past years, were comprised of anything from cider and doughnuts to face painting to pumpkin decorating.  As the Chair of the Student Programming Board, senior Kate Anticoli has also played an instrumental role in bringing the plans for this year’s Fall Fest to life.  She, too, has witnessed the progress of this campus-wide event firsthand.  “I planned it in 2014-2015 and it was at the KAC,” she recalled.  “It became much larger and had food trucks, inflatables, pumpkin decorating, and more.  It was also a part of the new Homecoming Weekend and was open to alumni and families.”

This year, Fall Fest and Homecoming Weekend are scheduled to take place from September 22 through September 25. Students can expect to experience these fall festivities in the Quad, rather than in the Koessler Athletic Center.  “We decided to move the event to the quad because we thought that it was a more convenient spot for students to attend,” said Ortega.  “We also love the idea of having the event in the middle of our campus around the St. Peter Canisius statue.  It’s a very popular spot on campus, so we figured that it would be a better location to engage students.”

These notions of campus engagement and involvement were initiated months ago, as the team allowed time for advanced scheduling and proper planning.  “We sat down with our advisors at the beginning of the summer to discuss what parts of the event we wanted to keep and what we wanted to change,” Anticoli described.  Ortega added, “There are around 20 different vendors from around Buffalo we have been working with. We’ve put in many hours of research trying to find unique vendors or activities to do at the event that we feel students would like, which I think we did a really good job doing.” He continued, “It’s basically been constant communication since a week before school started.  We’ve met weekly since the second week of classes to discuss details and to stay organized.”

The emphasis, especially in preparations for this year’s Fall Fest, was truly placed on the accessibility and preferences of the students, alumni, and family involved.  One method that those planning the event have coordinated is the presence of various food and entertainment options.  “We’ll have 716, Ru’s Pierogies, and Frank’s Hot Dogs food trucks.  There will be an ice cream truck and kettle corn,” Anticoli affirmed.  “There will also be inflatables,” Ortega contributed, “a photo booth, pumpkin and recycling bin decorating – Project Conservation will be providing the recycling bins, stress ball making – RHA’s involvement, a caricature artist, a henna artist, a balloon artist, and a vendors’ market where students can buy locally-made Buffalo-themed goods.”

As Ortega phrased it, “Every year there is a new twist.” This year, it happens to be the incorporation of the various vendors that will be featured at Fall Fest.  “We really wanted a thing that students could come to be exposed to different locally-made products,” he said.  Although the food trucks and activities vary based on what students prefer annually, the concept of each year’s Fall Fest is relatively consistent.  However, those planning the event this year invited these vendors to be present in order to integrate aspects of freshness, originality, and greater local pride into the mix of the festivities.

A goal of those involved with planning this exciting weekend over the years has been to increase overall attendance, for the sake of the immersion, interest, and excitement of those affiliated with Canisius.  “I hope that the event continues to grow and we get more alumni and family attendance,” Anticoli stated.  The Fall Fest planning team shares her optimism in their perspectives of the future.  In particular, by the standard of what Ortega mentioned previously, it is currently the case that the expected attendance has approximately quadrupled since four years ago.  When reflecting on the event that he closely aided in planning, Ortega shared, “I tried to get some different food options, and hopefully there will be at least one activity that everyone can have an interest in.  I hope for years to come that the event continues to grow.  I would love to have a bigger vendors’ market in the future and to maybe get more clubs involved.  I hope that people enjoy themselves!”

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