Changes at Springfest:Program Board shifts to outdoor BBQ, indoor concert after negative feedback

By Diego Ruiz

Springfest is tomorrow, and coordinators Lara Adekola ’10 and Lexi Abrams-Bourke ’11 have decided to revamp the event entirely, changing the time and venue in an attempt to appeal to more students.In years past, Springfest has been scheduled during the afternoon and evening, entirely on Shaw Field. Average attendance has hovered around 400 students for the past five years.

This year, the event will be split into two parts: a barbecue on Shaw Field from 5 to 8, and a concert in the Leonard Center from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Adekola and Abrams-Bourke said they received negative feedback about last year’s event and that contributed to their push to change Springfest to try and increase attendance.

“In the past, Springfest hasn’t been as great as it could be,” said Adekola. “There’s something to be said for trying something new.”

“For the past five years, we’ve been throwing an event that has been severely underattended,” said Abrams-Bourke. “It’s not like we’re throwing away all the previous Mac Springfest traditions.”

The date, four days before the start of finals, also factored into their decision to alter Springfest. “The idea of laying in a field for eight hours when people have 20 page papers is not feasible,” Abrams-Bourke said. Several students said they had too much work to attend at all.

Although some of the event is on Shaw Field, there will be many changes. Instead of corn dogs and cheese curds, food will be supplied by Big Daddy’s Barbecue, which prominent local restaurant critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl called “the best BBQ in the Twin Cities” in a 2007 City Pages article.

$5 will get a subsidized plate including rib tips, barbecued chicken, and baked beans, served by Macalester faculty and staff volunteers. For students who are 21 and older, there is a beer garden featuring Surly.

Only 500 meal tickets are available. “Judging from historical attendance, 500 is a lofty goal,” said Abrams-Bourke.

The barbecue will also have water activities, including a slip ‘n’ slide, and dunk tank, lawn sports such as badminton and bocce ball and a photobooth and bounce castle, both kept from previous Springfests. Macalester band The Muskies will perform during the evening portion, along with the Macalester DJ club.

At 8 p.m. the barbecue will wrap up. There is a two-hour break until the “Glow Hard or Go Home” concert portion begins in the Leonard Center Fieldhouse.

“That space is hardly utilized.”said Adekola, who said they hoped to create an atmosphere “like a concert at first Ave.”

The first act is Redd Hott, a reggae dancehall artist. Following him is acoustic artist and Minneapolis native Matthew Santos, best known for singing the chorus of the Grammy-nominated single “Superstar” by Lupe Fiasco. Adekola described the final act, Pac-Div, as “a hipster rap group from San Francisco.” DJ Pupp Dog will spin between sets.

Adekola acknowledged the artists were relatively obscure.

“We have a $19,000 budget (for music),” she said. “So the likelihood of everyone on campus knowing the artist is low.”

Springfest will cost $40,000 in total, the same amount as last year.

Both coordinators said they had heard criticism of their changes to the event, but that no students had come directly to them with their concerns.

“This is definitely an experimental process. It’s worth a shot,” said Abrams-Bourke. “I have 99 percent confidence that if people come, if it’s packed, it’s going to be fun

“And if it’s a flop, tell the Program Board,” she added.