Students and members of the community attended the inaugural Fall Harvest Festival, an event hosted by the University’s Greek life organizations, on Saturday, Oct. 10.
“It’s a joint effort by the whole Greek community to bring in both the Middletown and Wesleyan communities,” president of the Inter Greek Council (IGC) and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Jason Brandner ’16 said. “We want to celebrate fall and allow children to have a safe space and a fun time [on campus].”
According to the Coordinator of Greek Life, Zack Pfeifer, the idea for the Fall Harvest Festival came about during the spring of this year. Students involved in Greek life discussed their desire to host one or two large community outreach events in order to gain recognition for their community and the mission of Greek life.
“In particular, they wanted to try and reach out to the Middletown larger community, to provide some outreach to the community that has traditionally been ostracized by some of the actions that Greek life has done on campus in the past,” Pfeifer said. “We wanted to reach out to them and give them this opportunity to come back and enjoy some games, athletics, and to play some family-friendly activities.”
The six Greek societies that were present at the festival were AEPi, Alpha Delta Phi, Chi Psi, Psi Upsilon (Psi U), Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), and Rho Epsilon Pi (Rho Ep). The Eclectic Society registered for the event but was absent, so its booth was run by other students in the community.
“We figured each society could run one different booth of this festival, and that way everyone could kind of share responsibility and come up with their own games with their own style,” Psi U member and IGC Community Engagement Chair Abby Reed ’16 said. “But really, we’d all be working together so that kids could meet a big range of college students.”
This festival is not just a collaboration between the University’s Greek life community. Reed said that they branched out by asking local businesses to join them.
“[We] actually got a dentist to come,” Reed said. “We figured since we’re giving out candy and it’s Halloween we might as well have comprehensive health discussions.”
The festival consisted of more than just booths and games. Additionally, the Greek community collected a large number of canned goods for the Office of Community Engagement’s Canned Goods Drive.
“It’s going pretty well,” Brandner said. “We’ve got a fair amount of kids here. Everyone seems just to be having a great time. It’s putting together a kind of community service and community engagement [event]. It’s like having a fun time and doing Greek the Wes way.”
This event is the first of many community engagement events the Greek community would like to organize this semester, in an effort to express its gratitude for, and be more involved in the community.
“I personally would love to do it next year,” said Rho Ep member Hannah Skopicki ’18. “I’m just having the time of my life, and I’m really, really enjoying myself. It’s really nice for us to get to know more of the people in Middletown and for them to get to know us, and who we are.”
Reed said the one improvement that could have been made to the festival was the way it was advertised.
“Our downfall is we only started advertising for it a month ago,” Reed said. “So in future events, we’ll definitely want to advertise a lot more in advance. However, it’s our first time doing it, so by making this an inaugural event we’re hoping that each fall it’s something that Middletown can look forward to.”
The festival was geared towards young children and families. Jessica Bisson traveled from Colby to see the football game. While attending the game, she also brought her children to the festival.
“It was unexpected,” Bisson said. “We just traveled here from Maine for the football game. The kids really seem to be enjoying it, and it was a good way to break up the game for them. Face painting is always a hit.”
The Fall Harvest Festival was more than a community engagement project for the University’s Greek community.
“The focus isn’t really on Greek life,” Reed said. “It’s more just on interacting with kids and having fun.”
This article has been edited to reflect that DKE was present at the event.