SpringFest: A reinvented tradition


The Shield

Students glide through the air on a zip line during USI's SpringFest festivities in 2014.

James Vaughn

The new and improved SpringFest gave some students the college experience they had been waiting for.

“There were some students that said, ‘It feels like I’m on a college campus for the first time since I’ve been here,'” said Marcia Kiessling, associate provost for student affairs.

Though she was not happy to hear it was the first time those students felt that way, she said she was excited they felt a sense of energy on campus.

SpringFest returned to USI after a one-year hiatus, but the university did things differently this time around. Not only did it partner with the University of Evansville and the Ford Center, the SpringFest Committee brought the events onto campus, rather than having them in parking lots where the activities were held in the past.

“Students who had to go to class could still participate in some kind of way,” said Collen Schenk, SpringFest committee co-chair.

Campus came alive Thursday and Friday as students glided through the air on a zip line, made their way through an inflatable obstacle course, had their palms read and enjoyed a variety of free treats, such as smoothies, while listening to live music.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better week to do it,” Schenk said. “The weather was perfect.”

The laser show was a hit, Kiessling said,  but the committee will need to evaluate feedback to determine whether or not they will do it again next year.

“I think the Dueling Pianos will become a foundational piece because it was just so popular,” she said.

USI and UE each reserved 1,000 tickets each for the Smash Mouth/Love and Theft concert. USI’s tickets sold out by Thursday afternoon and 886 of its tickets were scanned in at the Ford Center Friday night. UE had 681 students attended the concert.

USI charged students $5 for a ticket, while UE gave away tickets for free.

“The choice to charge was very intentional,” Kiessling said. “It gives you a little incentive if you put a little bit of money in the game. We wanted to make it as close to free as possible, but still have them not just pick up (a ticket) and then decide if they’re going to go.”

When SpringFest began planning the events last year, the administration was concerned about taking the concert off campus.

“It couldn’t have gone better,” Kiessling said. “It was so nice to partner with the University of Evansville students because there’s no other way that we’re ever going to be able to have a setting where it’s just college students that can interact with each other. We partnered really effectively together, and we look forward to working with them again next year.”

Until this year, the SpringFest concert was always on USI’s campus, but Kiessling said this year’s arrangement worked out much better. The Ford Center took care of the concert, while USI and UE were responsible for selling tickets.

“In the past, we bought the whole concert and had all of that risk,” Kiessling said. “The money that we spent this year was more spread out and touched a lot more students than it has in the past…and it takes a lot to produce a concert. But at the Ford arena, they have all of the staffing to do it.”

The university offered transportation to and from the Ford Center, but only 25 students rode the bus.

Schenk said the committee needs to do a better job of advertising SpringFest events next year.

“We could get better at it,” Kiessling said. “But, social media was pretty effective.”

The overall cost was less than the cost of SpringFest 2012, Kiessling said.

“Even after adding in the income from the concert in 2012, we spent more that year than we did for this year’s SpringFest,” Kiessling said.

The committee is seeking a new chair for next year. The application, which is available on OrgSync, is due April 30.