By Sarah Kinney
Every fall, business and cultural institutions open their doors for “college days” to welcome back over 200,000 college students in the Greater Boston area.
This year two major events combined to form College Fest at Fenway Park.
In past years, there was a two-day College Fest concert series at Hynes Convention Center and a separate College Day at Fenway.
“It was great to see such a great turnout – combining the two events paid off,” said Simmons senior, Ashley Hatcher.
Nearly 100 vendors lined the halls of the historical stadium.
In the past, students were charged admission to College Fest. This year, Salt sponsored the event and it was free with a student I.D. Other sponsors included Army ROTC, T Mobile, L.L. Bean, McDonald’s, Classy Student Marketplace, U.S. Polo Assn., 101.7FM, 108 FM, and 94.5FM.
Thousands of students milled about and snagged bags, water bottles, pens, free samples, and more from major brands hoping to expand their customer base.
“I enjoyed the free sunglasses and the drink samples, and really liked all the free things,” said Simmons junior Katie Sittig-Boyd.
Spencer L’Heureux, a freshman at Northeastern University, tweeted that he got a lot of free stuff at Fenway.
Others were not so pleased with the offerings.
“I felt a little disconnected from the vendors,” said Hatcher. “Many were advertising night life or banks. I wanted to see more: museums, restaurants, libraries, just more Boston attractions. I can find a bank anywhere… I loved that the Boston Ballet was there, but I would have liked to see more.”
In addition to giveaways, L.L. Bean, Boston.com, and numerous other vendors had areas set up to take photos. Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox mascot, was on hand for photo opportunities as well.
One company, Unii, hid $100 bills for students to find.
“CollegeFest is all about brands recruiting me and marketing to me because I’m a desirable college-age consumer,” tweeted Allison Rebecca Penn, a junior at Boston University.
Canobie Lake Park had creatures of the night jumping out from behind pillars scaring unsuspecting students to promote Screeemfest.
“Also, I hated that Canobie Lake Park had all those Halloween characters walking around,” said Hatcher. “What if I had a heart attack because they were so scary?”
Throughout the day, 10 different musical groups blared music for the crowds. Artists included Aldous Collins, House on a Cliff, BoyMeetsWorld, Danielle Prou, and Notoriety.
Northeastern University’s Kinematic Dance Troupe and Boston University’s Fusion Hip Hop Dance Troupe performed.
“The band was loud and hard to listen to,” said Sittig-Boyd.
College Fest usually lasts two days, but in addition to being combined with College Day at Fenway, it was condensed into one day.
To get the full Fenway experience, students could sit in the outfield bleachers and have their picture shown on the jumbotron. Unlike last year, the Red Sox World Series trophies were not available to be in the picture too.
“I also wish there would have been more related to Fenway Park, where the event was held,” said Hatcher. “ The event seemed disconnected from the park – it could have been anywhere, really.”
An anonymous Simmons student thought that it had a better atmosphere than last year’s, but that it was crowded, loud, and had lower-quality giveaways.