This past weekend, Cornell was booming with activity as families from across the country and the world traveled to Ithaca for Family Weekend, and Fall Fest proved to be one of the main attractions occupying the Arts Quad on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of individuals gathered to participate in the fun activities.
A multitude of tables lining the paved paths of the Quad gave passing students and families the option to join in on the event celebrating the fall season and the Cornell community. Booths handed out free Cornell merch such as flashy key chains while others offered various types of games, crafts and information about different clubs at the University.
Some parents, like Anuj Vaish, expressed excitement at spending time with their students at the Fest. Though Vaish worried over his Freshman student’s spirits being in a new environment, he felt more reassured by being able to spend this quality time with her.
“We are coming from [New] Jersey, so this is the best time to come and bond with our kids,” Vaish said. “Sometimes they get homesick so it is better to come here and spend some time with them.”
Vaish’s young son, Raynesh Vaish, also came to campus to visit his sister and said he was amused by all of the activities available to the families.
“I really enjoy the good weather, and my favorite part about Fall Fest was definitely the pumpkin painting,” Raynesh Vaish said. “There is really much to enjoy.”
The aforementioned pumpkin activities were a crowd favorite set up by the freshmen members of the Class Council. They fenced in a red and orange Fall foliage tree growing in the Quad and spread out small pumpkins and gourds for people to take, have a photo op with and then paint. Nafisa Haque ’26, one of the members who organized the activity, expressed her excitement at seeing all of the people enjoying the day together.
“For me, the best part has been watching how happy parents get when they are with their children,” Haque said. “I didn’t realize how important it was that Fall Fest was during Parents Weekend because it shows the parents a really good view of Cornell and makes them a bit more comforted about the fact that their child is here.”
Along with yard games such as cornhole, KanJam and giant Jenga, all afternoon, students lined up to race through a bounce house and make crafts such as buttons, sand art and Fall Foliage paintings.
Several performance-based clubs, including the Lion Dancers, performed in front of Goldwin Smith Hall for a large crowd. The Lion Dancers obtained large notice with their bright colors and swift movements while acapella and other music groups also contributed to the Fall celebration with their routines.
Touchdown, the Big Red Bear, was especially a crowd favorite as there was always a line of students and families waiting to hug, high five and snap a picture with him.
Furthermore, this event also shed light on some of the other diverse organizations Cornell has to offer.
The American Society of Landscape Architecture was one of the many campus groups present at the event. They sold plants, spoke with students and parents and enjoyed the Fall Fest activities alongside their fellow Cornellians.
“We currently don’t have funding from Cornell which we are working on, but until then we needed to fundraise,” said member Emma Uzgiris ’24. “Also, a lot of people don’t know about landscape architecture so we have been chatting with a lot of different families and students about it.”
Class Council is a student-run organization that has been in charge of running and arranging Fall Fest since 2016, and they are constantly working to build school spirit through community-centered events. Its participants and members join in an effort to build a sense of unity in each undergraduate class by giving students, faculty, community members and staff the opportunity to get involved in campus wide activities such as Fall Fest and next semester’s coming Winter Fest.
Vanessa Shim ’23, president of Class Councils, roamed the Arts Quad, speaking to families and students and ensuring that everyone enjoyed the event. This long standing tradition of Fall Fest has been a Cornell staple long before Shim was a freshman, and she remarks that it is events like these that Class Councils capitalizes on.
“Class Councils is rooted in building spirit as well as community, so that is what we want to focus on,” Shim said. “We want to invite different organizations on campus as a time for them to showcase their clubs but also utilize this time and space to bring other Cornellians together.”