The Student Association is planning to hold Fall Fest this semester, but the event will likely be smaller due to COVID-19 restrictions, room reservation issues and vendor capacity problems, according to members of the SA e-board.
In a sit-down interview with The Spectrum, the e-board acknowledged the possibility that it won’t be able to hold Fall Fest this semester. In that event, the SA will likely host “different, smaller events” throughout the fall semester, according to SA Treasurer Austin Wolfgang.
Either way, leftover funds from this semester will “most likely” be used to host a larger-than-average Spring Fest and Comedy Series next semester, according to the e-board.
“We are still venturing into what we can and can’t do,” SA president Nick Singh said.
The SA hasn’t charged any expenses to its $250,000 fest production account or $55,000 comedy production account as of the time of publication, according to the SA General Ledger, but the e-board says it has spent months trying to plan the events despite numerous difficulties.
“There was the question of COVID-19 guidelines for quite a while — longer than what maybe students had known about — with big gatherings especially,” Wolfgang said. “And then there’s also the question of trying to get room reservations [from the university]. As our clubs will tell you, it’s very hard to get room reservations, and SA is having the same [problem] as all our clubs are. We go through the same process to get those reservations.”
Wolfgang specifically cited the SA’s troubles in reserving large spaces, such as Alumni Arena, due to the high demand.
Singh says his administration considered holding Fall Fest outside to avoid room scheduling problems, but ultimately decided against that due to the cold weather and because their outdoor tent vendor ceased operations.
That isn’t the only vendor-related issue the e-board has faced; COVID-19-related supply chain and employment issues have also created headaches, according to the e-board.
“With the [Family Weekend] carnival, we had to use a couple new vendors because vendors had gone out of business, or they didn’t have the staff to provide their normal level of service,” Wolfgang said. “Trying to get all of that together [for Fall Fest] has been quite difficult on shorter notice.”
The Comedy Series has been equally difficult to plan due to the same problems, Singh said.
“It’s a whole process,” Singh said. “We need the [comedian], we get the date, then we reach out to the managers, then we reach out to [SA Council] Coordinators, then we reach out to contract, then reach out to [SA] Production. So it’s a lot of things, ...compared to, [for] example, having one DJ or somebody come in.”
Singh also confirmed “for sure” that the SA is actively planning and will host a Winter Gala since “that was much further out” from the start of the semester.
The announcement follows Singh’s September comments that the SA was in the “planning stages” of putting on Fall Fest and the Comedy Series. That statement raised questions about whether Fall Fest or the Comedy Series would be held at all.
The SA didn’t hold an in-person Fall Fest, Spring Fest or Comedy Series last year due to COVID-19, although the SA held online events like a paint night with rapper Lil Yachty.
Fall Fests of years’ past have featured performances from Pop Smoke, Gunna and DaBaby, Childish Gambino and Queen Naija. Recent Comedy Series headliners include John Mulaney, Trevor Noah and Nick Offerman.
“We had students away [from campus] for a year,” Singh said. “We have a whole year group of students who don’t know what campus life is. We need to... make that experience [happen for them]. ...We are trying our best to make stuff happen.”
Grant Ashley is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor for The Spectrum. He is a political science major and a (mediocre) Spanish minor. He enjoys taking long bike rides and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon.