SpringFest returns

James Vaughn

Just one year after it was canceled, SpringFest will return in 2014.

“This year’s scope is set to be much greater than in previous years,” said Nick Mathis, SpringFest 2014 co-director.

A concert, which will be held at the Ford Center, has been confirmed, Mathis said.

“By going to a facility built for such events, we can focus more funding on the artist rather than the production,” he said.

USI has decided to partner with the University of Evansville for the event. The universities are planning to reserve the floor of the stadium for students, as well as cover the cost of the artist.

The talent has yet to be determined but will be discussed soon, Mathis said.

“I wouldn’t say confirmed until I sign a contract,” Provost Ronald Rochon said about a concert at the Ford Center. “But serious conversations are going on right now.”

Rochon has stated his concern about taking acts off campus.

“Once a USI function leaves USI property, we have very little say in what happens,” he said in a previous article.

A few safety plans include providing direct transportation between campus and the Ford Center and a partnership between USI’s public safety officers and the Evansville Police Department, he said.

“In regards to potentially getting a larger, more visible, more recognizable act, that venue is going to assist us in doing so,” Rochon said. “I’m always concerned with our resources being recognized as a USI event. I want USI to be a banner of success.”

Rochon said he is excited about the return of SpringFest.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a sea of red, white and blue in the audience,” Rochon said. “That’s going to communicate a lot to everyone who’s there.”

The music festival was a USI tradition for 11 years. But when Tim Beucher, former career services director and the man responsible for SpringFest, retired last year, Rochon decided to cancel the event.

“There were just so many unanswered questions from so many people about what we were doing,” he said, referring to the direction of SpringFest and the cost of the event. “Let’s get our act together. Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk to students. Let’s develop a plan.”

Rochon said he wanted many voices to be providing input.

“I am not opposed to SpringFest,” Rochon said. “I am very much in favor of it. But I want to see it happen with a method and a process that we’re all endorsing as a community.”

Rochon assigned Associate Provost for Student Affairs Marcia Kiessling to convene a university-wide committee to discuss the next steps for SpringFest, and they’ve done quite a bit of work at this point, he said.

His number one priority is student input, he said.

Rochon said he heard from many students that the carnival rides SpringFest brought to campus weren’t enjoyable.

“They (students) just haven’t found it to be very promising to their interpretations or their desires of what SpringFest should look like,” he said.

Other topics of discussion include whether or not SpringFest should be an annual event and what the themes should be and how and when those will be determined.

Rochon said he has not received a budget yet, but pointed out that SpringFest is not a revenue generator.

“I like to think about SpringFest as an event or activity for students to enjoy,” Rochon said. “It provides a stronger opportunity for community building, and that’s the purpose for me.”

Mathis said the committee is also planning to continue its Spring Into Fitness 10K partnership.

The SpringFest committee and its subcommittees are developing a list of other possible events.

Committee members are hoping to make SpringFest a weeklong event, rather than two days, Mathis said.

“This committee has taught me a lot about myself and my school,” he said. “If I can give a fraction of that back to the members of the SpringFest committee, there is no doubt that this will continue on as one of USI’s greatest new traditions.”

Junior health services major Cory Anderson attended SpringFest his freshman year and said he was disappointed when it was canceled last year.

“The festival was kind of bland, but the concert was awesome,” Anderson said.

He had heard Mike Posner and Karmin, Spring 2012 acts, on the radio, but wasn’t a fan of either one until he saw them live, he said.

“They put on one hell of show,” Anderson said. “I bought both albums on iTunes the next day.”

He said he’s glad the event is back on.

“It will give students something to do,” Anderson said. “Being at the Ford Center, it could involve the community more.”

Students interested in joining a subcommittee can “like” USI Springfest on Facebook or submit their email to http://tinyurl.com/SpringFestInterest.