West Side Nut Club more than just Fall Fest

Jimmy Pyles

It takes a whole year for one week to run smoothly.fallfestonline

Since the start of the West Side Nut Club in 1921, they have held the Fall Festival. After surviving the great depression, World War II and the recent rescession the festival is now in its 90th year. 


Fall Fest is the Nut Club’s biggest event of the year attracting over 200,000 people to the West Side and is considered to be one of the largest street festivals in the U.S., with over 126 food booths, several rides, a talent show and a parade.

“Our totals vary depending on the weater but typically we give away $200,000 a year,” Fall Fest publicity chariman Ben Kempf said.

It is not how much the Nut Club gets, but how much money they give back to the West Side community. Since the start of the Nut Club they have given $4,131,273.80 back the West Side community and Evansville.

“The Nut Club started giving to University of Southern Indiana in 1965,” Kempf said.

Since 1965 the Nut Club has donated over $189,270 to USI.

“The West Side Nut has always supported USI in the past and looks forward in supporting them in the future,” Kempf said.

In 2005, the Nut Club donated the gazebo by Reflection Lake.

“It was one of their projects, they bought all the materials and build it, they even laid the shrubs and concrete around it as well,” said Ginny Bryant, assistant director of Development, Scholarships and Major Gifts.

In the 2003-2004 year, the Nut Club started offering renewable scholarships and now currently provides eight scholarships per year.

Two out of the eight scholarships are awarded each year to USI with one going to graduate from Mater Dei and other going to a Reitz High School graduate.

For biology major Jessica Spears, it was a relief when she found out she was awarded the scholarship. Spears was the recipient of the 2011 WSNC Foundation Scholarship for a Mater Dei graduate. As someone who has to pay for their own schooling it helps play nearly one-fourth of the cost to attend USI.

“They surprised me in my class, I was walking in and my parents and some members of the Nut Club were standing there, then I realized that I got the scholarship. After feeling excited I was a little embarrassed,” Spears said.

Each graduate gets an $8000 scholarship to USI. The total of the WSNC Foundation Scholarship equals $16,000.

Every year the Nut Club donates money to the Athletic Department: $6,000 to the Varsity Club and $2,000 to the Sliver Eagle sponsor.

The athletic department normally distributes the money between all 13 programs to pay for travel, equipment and other expenses.

 “The other years one program might get more if they have a special need for the money then next year we try to rotate the money to another program so everyone get the same amount of money,” Athletics Director Jon Mark Hall.

Over the years the Nut Club has supported just about every area on campus in some way or another.

The Nut Club has donated to other projects and orgainzation to USI such as Heritage Artisan Week, Art department, student life, Varsity Club fundraising events such as the annual Steak Fry and Auction, Varsity Membership and History New Harmony.