BlastOff cancellation causes minor changes for Black Squirrel Festival


Nate Manley / The Kent Stater The Black Squirrel Festival takes over Risman Plaza Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.

Rachel Duthie

The 35th annual Black Squirrel Festival will not have any “major changes” to accommodate the early cancellation of BlastOff, according to an official at Kent State’s Center for Student Involvement.

The announcement comes after rainstorms caused university police to cut the back-to-school event short last Sunday. Rather than rescheduling Blastoff, CSI used its social media platforms to encourage students to attend the Black Squirrel Festival scheduled for this Friday.

“We’ve never had a rain backup for Blastoff, and with this being two weeks later logistically, it already seems like a good enough alternative,” said Rebecca Kapler, assistant director of CSI. “A lot of the same groups from Blastoff come to the Black Squirrel Festival, (so) we feel like students will have the same experience.”

Kapler also noted that rescheduling would be difficult (because) although both events are similar, Blastoff is a lot bigger and more complex to redo efficiently.

“Our organization would need a lot more time to get over 300 groups to come together again,” Kapler said. “(Black Squirrel Festival) will not have as many organizations, but enough.”

The festival is Kent State’s annual fall semester event in Risman Plaza that aims to attract students to learn more about student organizations and local businesses. The event includes live music, food vendors, a photo booth and inflatables.

A Cleveland Cavaliers’ merchandise truck and free t-shirt giveaways are the only differences students will see this festival as compared to years past.

“In terms of CSI’s decision, they have to make the call, and they do so based off a very rigorous, diverse and timely schedule they run by,” said Sam Graska, USG executive director. “Especially with everything we’re doing to put on Kesha and PartyNextDoor later this month.”

Many freshmen and student organizations have expressed mixed emotions regarding CSI’s decision to not add more to the festival to compensate for the cancellation of Blastoff.

“I feel like it’s pretty fair,” said Matt Weigand, a freshman digital sciences major. “But I also feel like if they added more student organizations to the festival, like Blastoff, it would attract more students. A lot of freshmen who showed up late didn’t see most of the organizations (because) the rain started 45 minutes into the event.”

Many student organizations, including Greek life organizations and the Fashion Students Organization, tabled in the days after Blastoff in order to gain more members.

Hana Barkowitz, president of the Kent State College Democrats, noticed a significant impact the cancellation of Blastoff has brought to the organization.

“Blastoff is our most important recruitment event,” Barkowitz said. “Our first meeting of the semester is usually a lot bigger because of marketing we do at Blastoff. It sucks it got canceled.”

The Black Squirrel Festival will be held Friday from noon to 6 p.m. in the Risman Plaza. The event will be rescheduled if bad weather occurs.

Rachel Duthie is a features correspondent, contact her at [email protected].