By Drew Lascot
Fresh food and live music usually aren’t the kinds of things one would expect to find waiting in the FRCC Westminster parking lot, unless, of course, you happened to read one of the many of flyers posted around campus advertising the Taste of College: a festival full of games, activities, prizes, and food trucks held Sept. 13, all to celebrate the 50th anniversary of FRCC.
Even before the scheduled 4 p.m., a spread of food trucks started rolling up to park and prepare on campus, and the music department was busy setting up stage. Further east, near the greenhouse, was a student-built and designed escape room and a newly stocked art gallery.
Before long, the event was in full swing. Students, staff, and local community started filling up rows of seats near the stage, lines were forming by the food trucks, while others took to a cooler tented section of long tables. These tables in particular were scattered with candies in FRCC’s colors and vintage photos of the students and staff of the school circa 1970. Further toward the grass, near the Welcome Center, attendees were given sidewalk chalk and plenty of sidewalk to draw murals commemorating the golden anniversary. Closer to the front doors, on the actual grass, there was the bean bag tossing game, cornhole, and giant Jenga, among other activities for students and kids alike.
The music on stage was headlined by Dr. Kevin Garry of the music department, taking up his instrument of fame, the acoustic guitar. Accompanying him: a fiddle, electric bass, and a second guitar. These folks were all talents from within the school. Together, they heightened the laid-back, festival mood the event’s organizers hoped to accomplish to a level no radio station could.
From classical instrumentals to classic rock hits, the choice in music was as widespread as the food. Mexican, Italian, hot dogs, snow cones, even African cuisine were all offered; each seemed to garner equal attention.
The casual congregation of college and community struck a chord with many students, including Carolyn Rhodes, who was busy chowing down and listening to the live music.
“You get more involved when they do things like this,” Rhodes said. “People here are more involved in classes and work hard. They don’t get in and get out the same way when there’s something extra going on. It feels like [people who work for FRCC] care. Using their own money and resources shows that a bit too.”
Attendance only seemed to increase as the evening persisted; prizes were getting handed out faster, stations for games were filling up.
The mixing of students, staff, and locals from the neighborhood went just as campus Vice President Cathy Pellish had hoped. “Openness” was Pellish’s opening descriptor, when answering about the future of FRCC.
“We can’t be afraid to try new things,” said Pellish, regarding the school’s attitude in moving forward, and events like The Taste of College are definitely something different from the average when it comes to college happenings.
With simply so much to do, the event could offer something for everyone who came. A whole century of FRCC looks to be Pellish’s hope, and if contemporary, spontaneous-feeling events like these can keep appealing to students and local community, the school might accomplish just that.