Blowing off steam

Crowds of college students were out and about downtown Fredonia this past weekend, celebrating the final days of classes at SUNY Fredonia during Fred Fest 2013.

On campus, there were some changes to the annual event held but according to Public Relations Director Michael Barone close to 2,000 students attended the on campus events Saturday afternoon.

“What we did on campus went over very, very well,” Barone said.

New this year, SUNY Fredonia held more of a carnival themed event instead of having a headlining concert. Barone said the decision came in an effort to return Fred Fest to its roots, a time for students to get together – especially seniors – to have fun as a collective group.

“For several years we had a big name act. It took away from the purpose of Fred Fest for everyone to get together … and have one fun day,” Barone said.

The campus had food and drink vendors, including Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, an inflatable obstacle course, an inflatable dodgeball game and student bands. Barone said students enjoyed the inflatable dodgeball game, where students were tethered together, and the bands were “terrific.” Students also had the opportunity to stuff a bear complete with Fred Fest T-shirts. “Students did not seem to mind at all there wasn’t a big name act,” he said. “We had a line along Ring Road waiting to get in (to the event). It was beautiful weather. People were really enjoying it.”

Last year, the headlining concert was Lupe Fiasco which, while a big draw for some students, the concert was not very well attended, Barone said.

“In the long term, we want to continue to look for opportunities to being in entertainment acts at a national level, but Fred Fest is not the venue for that,” he added. “We’ve come to realization that Fred Fest needs to be its own thing.”

Barone said collectively the campus will get together, including the office of campus life and University Police and discuss how this year’s event with. He said there were no specific incidents on campus. Next year’s Fred Fest will be similar to this year’s, he said. He is also looking forward as the campus welcomes a new dean of students for visual and performing arts and his ideas for future Fred Fests and other campus events.

While there was no incidents on campus, the village of Fredonia was full of students, according to Mayor Stephen Keefe. He said he was aware of some minor vandalism and noise complaints which occurred over the weekend but he did not hear of any other major problems.

“(The village) certain was lively. The kids were out, the weather was beautiful,” Keefe said. “I did talk to the police chief (Bradley Meyers) and he thought it was a moderate weekend as far as major problems. He said (the police department) was very busy.”

Keefe was proud of a group of students who were out on Sunday morning picking up the bottles and cans. The money collected was going to go for a good cause, St. Jude’s Hospital.

“I saw the students out there and thought that was nice,” he said. “It’s nice to appreciate a lot of the little things and I know that people aren’t real happy with a lot of (Fred Fest)behavior.”

He said Fred Fest weekend is a blessing and a curse. Keefe said he enjoys watching the college kids out and about, but hopes they aren’t involved in risky behaviors. He believes that even without Fred Fest, the nice weather would have brought out college students anyway.

“There were fewer activities on campus and the weather was so beautiful. Even if it wasn’t Fred Fest, it would have been an active weekend (in the village),” Keefe said.

Over the weekend, there were over 40 charges from Friday to Sunday for college-aged students compared to last year’s total of 101. Nineteen were for having an open container, 14 were for unlawful possession of alcohol under 21, four for littering, one for violating the sewer ordinance, one for unlawful possession of marijuana and one for walking in traffic.

Sgt. Phil Maslak of Fredonia Police declined to comment on Fred Fest.

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