Black Squirrel Festival celebrates 36th year, encourages on-campus diversity

Students stand in line for the Fork in the Road food truck during Black Squirrel Festival on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

Alex Kamczyc

The 36th annual Black Squirrel Festival was met with brisk winds and chilly weather Friday, Sept. 8 on Risman Plaza.

Thousands of students and faculty came to sample the local vendors and see what clubs they may have missed at BlastOff.

The festival is the last major event at the beginning of the school year where students get to know a variety of organizations offered on campus.

“I think it’s important just so students know what’s out there and what they might want to get involved in,” said Rebecca Kapler, the assistant director for the the Center for Student Involvement. “People have been in school a couple weeks so they’re getting into routines so they can see what they can get involved with outside of school.”

Many of the vendors were giving away free items, ranging from T-shirts to fidget spinners.

“I think it’s cool how there’s a very diverse group of people on campus,” said Anna Montazzoli, a freshman biology major. “There’s something for everyone, and they’re all motivated to want you to be here.”

Inflatable games flooded the Student Green, including an obstacle course where participants had to dodge and climb their way through to the other end, and a bungee shuttle run where two people could compete to see who could run the farthest without being pulled away.

A photo booth for friends to take pictures, along with Marine Corps flight simulators for people to try their hand at flying simulated versions of real aircrafts used by the military, also made an appearance.

“We never had anything like this in high school,” said Braden Wyers, a freshman aeronautics and engineering major. “Before college, we would only have something like the Marines coming with their pull-up bars to lunch, nothing as big as this festival. It’s a lot to take in.”

The day was also accompanied by music from Black Squirrel Radio. That, with the plethora of vendors, clubs and activities throughout the day, all came together for students new to campus.

“Originally I didn’t even want to apply here,” Montazzoli said. ”But now I see that there’s so much diversity, you can do whatever you want here. I think it’s the perfect size, and there’s opportunities for anything you want. I love it.”

Alex Kamczyc is a feature correspondent. Contact him at [email protected].