|Fool’s Fest no joke to its creators or local authorities|
|Written by Renee Changnon, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 01 March 2011 22:32|
What began as an idea of a few students seeking to show off their campus pride to others on April Fool’s Day has quickly grown to an event to which nearly 10,000 students from Illinois State University and surrounding universities have confirmed attendance.
A few weeks ago, Fool’s Fest was born when two of its three founders were heading back to campus from Pinch Penny Pub’s annual Polar Bear party held in Carbondale, Ill. each February.
Austin Beaty, junior broadcast journalism major, and friend Jon Brosio, junior business entrepreneurial studies major, had a great time visiting friends from SIU and enjoying their weekend together, which led them to start thinking about their own campus.
That night Beaty, Brosio and a few others decided to create a Facebook event, and from that point on, Fool’s Fest was off the ground and running.
“Everyone’s been saying this is like ‘The Social Network.’ In two hours, we had 2,500 people [attending the event]. We thought we were going to have 2,000 people in the entire event. We’re close to 10,000 now,” Brosio said.
The guys felt that having an event for ISU students showcasing campus pride and coming together as a university could allow for a positive event.
“I think the main thing is we really want to have a good time [on Fool’s Fest]. We really want to make this a positive thing and have everyone come out,” Beaty said.
James Hicks, junior biological science major and the third part of the Fool’s Fest trio, was added to the event to help promote Fool’s Fest to a wide range of audiences across campus and other nearby universities.
“[Fool’s Fest is] just going to definitely create a lot of school pride. Even on the [Facebook page], people have been posting videos and ISU anthems,” Hicks said.
Although the men have been working hard to plan for the event, obstacles along the way, including university officials and police, have brought some planning to a standstill and required them to seek ways to make the event as safe as possible.
According to Major Aaron Woodruff, Deputy Chief of the ISU Police Department, the university does not support Fool’s Fest.
“It’s unfortunate that the event is being portrayed as an Illinois State University thing… We’re trying to get away from the drinking image,” Woodruff said.
Campus police are still assessing the situation to determine their plans on Fool’s Fest.
“I think that students and others can probably expect a significant police presence if there is a large crowd and that we’re there to maintain the order and make sure people are being responsible,” Woodruff added.
The event’s founders all understand that Fool’s Fest raises safety concerns for many, and they stress the importance of those participating to have fun in a responsible manner.
“If we want this to be a tradition, if we want this to be fun, we need people to participate responsibly and not go out and act like an idiot,” Beaty said.
Woodruff warns that in addition to the consequences students face while drinking, whether of age or not, it is also important to keep guests from other schools in mind as well.
“[Guests] are going to be held to the same standards as our students. They’re still going to face the same fines; they’re still going to face the same consequences,” Woodruff said.
The Fool’s Fest founders agree that celebrating in a healthy manner is key for those bringing students to ISU from other schools to show off the university and the students who attend it.
“There’s ways to have a good time without drinking,” Beaty said. “If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly. If not, go out and grill, go out and throw around a football, toss around a Frisbee, hang out with your friends.”
For Woodruff, the thought of Fool’s Fest becoming a new tradition is worrisome, as the focus appears to be on drinking.
“We’d hope it wouldn’t become an annual thing that is a way to go out drinking. My hope would be that our students would do something good, make something positive of the event,” Woodruff said.
With about a month of planning left, the founders are working to make the event run as smoothly as possible, as well as seeking a way to bring some positive attention to it through a foundation of great importance to them.
Beaty’s friend, who attends Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has been suffering for the past two years since his sister was in a car accident.
Since then, the insurance has stopped covering her treatments, and the situation has been hard on his family. Beaty has always wanted to help and he feels that Fool’s Fest would be the perfect outlet to spread the word and make a difference.
“To be able to give [donations] from our school to another kid from another school whose family is in need, we think that would be just amazing,” Beaty said.
The Jessica Cantrell Special Needs Trust Fund would benefit by receiving funds to help pay for the medical bills.
“To have this public forum, and to have this big of an audience pretty much at our fingertips, is pretty cool and we think that we can use that to make positive things happen,” Beaty said.
While the founders continue to deal with the legal restrictions, talk to possible sponsors and work out the details of Fool’s Fest, they encourage ways to raise money for the charity.
“There are three of us doing this. We need help, we need good ideas, and we need donations for the foundation. We encourage [students] to send us their ideas via Facebook,” Beaty added.
According to Woodruff, the event is not something ISU wants to promote.
“The unfortunate thing is that they’re going to tie ISU to a term like ‘Fool’s Fest.’ It’s unfortunate that there is an affiliation now with our university with that kind of title,” Woodruff said.
In response to the school’s opposition to Fool’s Fest, the founders want to reiterate that they simply want a fun event with a minimum amount of foolishness involved.
“In regards to the school, we’re trying to do everything we can to limit fools being fools,” Brosio said.