By Samantha Wahl, Contributing Writer
The Fall Family Festival is always a good time. Apparently this year, the wasps got the memo.
The unofficial UMass Dartmouth mascots were conspicuously present this year, to the point that as I walked around the festival with my notebook, one of the vendors joked that I must be there to “take care of the bees.”
All the same, the festival went off without a hitch. The area next to the residents’ dining hall was decorated with cobwebs and Halloween decorations, and the open quads were filled with people eager to get into the spirit of the season.
Preservice art teachers painted children’s faces. At tables across the way from them, children sat at a table with pumpkins and paint cups, decorating intently.
As for the older attendees, a costume contest drew the particularly festive types, while the adventurous could find themselves on a rock-climbing wall or attached to bungee cords, leaping into the air above the festivities. There was truly something for everyone.
The Festival is an excellent chance for student organizations to get out there and engage with the community, and this year, they did not disappoint. An entire side of the festivities was dedicated to on-campus groups.
At the History Club table, Alannah Mellon and Abby Field offered passers by some “historical cookie facts.”
Further down the line, the newly formed Young Americans for Liberty chapter invited students to sign a giant beach ball that they called the “free speech ball.”
The UMass Dartmouth Metals Guild sold pendants and pins in the shapes of ghosts and pumpkins. The sorority Phi Sigma Sigma handed out candy bags stuffed into plastic gloves.
The Asian Students Association offered a sample of milk tea as I worked my way across the quad. Share Esperanza, the ceramics club, and the Metals Guild were each selling wares.
There were countless other groups in attendance, including the American Federation of Teachers, Relay for Life, DECA (a business club on campus), and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
It was a flurry of activity, and a comfortable sense of community settled over the quad as students chatted to each other about their clubs and causes.
A highlight of the afternoon were the student performances, hosted on a “big little stage” set up on the grass.
This year, there were three groups performing. First, students Tyler Rebello and Allison Andrade performed “Seventeen,” a song from 20 Cent Fiction’s upcoming musical Heathers.
There was then a performance from a capella group Mental Note, followed by a routine by the dance team. The enthusiasm in the audience for all three acts was palpable. Activity on the “big little stage” continued throughout the day, with a science show being put on for the children.
After the student performances, the music continued in the band tent, where I walked in to the sounds of Cee Cee and the Riders’ swinging, smoky cover of “Hound Dog.”
Around the tent, people listened and dined on the various foods that the festival had to offer. There were mac and cheese cups, clam chowder, and sliders as far as the eye could see, as well as quite a few waffles; the Waffle Cabin tent drew a crowd consistently throughout the day.
Across the field from the student organizations, there were vendors and artisans selling their products. Each had something interesting to say, whether it was the woman with the soy candles- absolutely soot-free, she told visitors- or the mother-and-daughter pair selling paracord bracelets (Paracord, it was explained, is a military-grade type of rope that apparently makes for great jewelry).
There was even an artisan penmaker: Albert La France. “Albert’s been doing pens since ‘97,” his wife told me.
Hand-turned with refillable ink, the pens are an unusual but compelling work of artisanry.
Everyone at the Festival had a story, it seemed, and here in the grassy quad outside the Campus Center, the stories were free to intertwine together. It was an afternoon of celebration and community.