MARQUETTE - With sunny skies and plenty of free stuff, Northern Michigan University's 2013 Fall Fest kicked off Monday morning with a big crowd and at least 150 booths.
This year, the festival returned to its roots, taking place in its original location outside the University Center.
In recent years, Fall Fest had been held in the academic mall on campus. With construction of the new, $34.3 million Jamrich Hall taking up a large chunk of the academic mall, organizers felt it best to move the festival this year.
Northern Michigan University Junior Lauren Roediger, left, puts her name on a list of interested students at the Big Brothers Big Sisters booth at NMU’s Fall Fest Monday, as Liz Sherman, center, and Laura Putwen from the nonprofit group look on. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Organizers of Monday’s Northern Michigan University Fall Fest expected roughly 1,000 students to attend events at the University Center in Marquette. Pictured here, a crowd makes its way down a sidewalk lined with booths representing student organizations, local volunteer agencies and local businesses. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"We've had to reconfigure the space a little bit, but we're really excited because this was the original Fall Fest location and even though it's only going to be here this year, and we are thinking it'll move back in the academic mall, it's great to have it in its original spot," said Lizzie Corser, graduate assistant for the Center for Student Enrichment, which hosts the event each year, along with the Lake Superior Community Partnership.
The booths had a lot of free things to give away to students, from pens to pizza slices, T-shirts to discs.
Students could learn about 120 student organizations on campus, with each booth offering information on how to join and what the organization does.
Northern's student media organizations were on hand, with Radio X, Public Eye news and The North Wind all present, as were its many academic organizations, such as the Elementary Education Math Club.
"It's a great way to kick off the year," Corser said. "It's a high energy event."
With 30 volunteer organizations and 90 businesses all present at the festival, Corser said Fall Fest provides a great opportunity to reach out to possible new recruits at the beginning of the school year.
"Get them right when they're fresh, when they're excited for another great year and when they're looking for those opportunities," Corser said.
Liz Sherman and Laura Putwen, both match support specialists for Big Brothers Big Sisters, were manning their organization's booth during Fall Fest.
Sherman said her organization typically sees 25 to 30 new student volunteers as a result of the festival.
"It's a great opportunity," Sherman said. "We've been getting a lot of students who've never heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters participating because we're out here."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.