Mini Fall Festival attendance proves strong despite restrictions


Jordan Rusche, Lifestyles Editor (She/Her)

Those walking by the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium Saturday, Oct. 10 may have heard the music, talk and laughter signaling another sponsored fall event for students. The Mini Fall Festival included sports challenges with prizes, food trucks and a movie shown inside the stadium.

“I’ve had a pretty good time,” Matthias Kunerth, a junior agriculture business major who attended the event, said. “I wish more people would have come out … I’ve had a lot of fun so far.”

The event, hosted by the Office of Student Activities, was assisted by both the University Program Council and other South Dakota State University students like freshman cheer team member Ally Palugyay, who helped run the football toss game.

“I knew it wasn’t really advertised much, so I’m glad that people came to this,” she said regarding attendance to the event.

The Mini Fall Festival was one of several events this semester that these two programs have offered to SDSU students this fall. Despite the new challenges of hosting events due to COVID-19, UPC President Abby Mikel says that turnout to their events has been “the same if not better.”

“We’ve had some virtual events over Zoom, or we’ve done a concert through Facebook Live stream,” she said. “Especially outdoor events, people have been able to come for those.”

She attributes much of this to an increased use of social media to boost events.

“We’ve got to rely on social media a lot,” she said. “We’re finding creative ways to promote.”

Kate Stock, assistant director for student activities, agrees that some events, like bingo and trivia nights, have been more popular this year. Still, she wants to continue getting more students involved in future events.

“I hoped that we could get a lot of students interested in getting out of their rooms and attending unique events—some of which we’ve not done on campus before now—in a fun and safe way,” she said.

There have been other difficulties hosting events so far this year. Mikel explained that UPC and the Office of Student Activities have certain protocols they must conform to due to the pandemic, which can make organizing events much more difficult.

“We follow all the South Dakota Board of Regents protocols. For outdoor events, we put up signs that say, ‘social distance and masks are highly encouraged’,” Mikel said. “And then, obviously, with things inside buildings, you have to follow everything through the university: social distancing, we don’t move around chairs.”

The JacksRBack committee established many of these protocols at the beginning of the semester to allow events to continue without putting anyone at risk.

Getting the word out has also been a struggle at times, as organizations like UPC are not allowed to promote themselves along Main Street of the  University Student Union.

“I don’t know if I’d say it’s challenging, but it’s just been different having people do captioning for each event, because that’s required for virtual options, and finding ways for people to RSVP to an event so we know if we are going to exceed that capacity,” Mikel said.

Despite those restrictions, virtual events this semester have proven very popular with students. The Common Read Student Panel Oct. 5 that UPC helped to promote maxed out the Zoom call with 300 attendants.

Both UPC and the Office of Student Activities have more upcoming events planned up until the end of the semester. Some of these include ghost stories at the McCrory Gardens, a gingerbread-house-making contest and a virtual event featuring a caricature artist, among others.

Mikel says she’s most looking forward to the Hobo Day events scheduled for the end of October, such as Mr. & Ms. Homelycoming pagesnt and Jacks Got Talent.

“It’s really fun to see it all come together,” Mikel said. “A lot of people come out to see those, so it’s fun to be a part of that.”