It’s the middle of October, campus is ablaze with autumn’s auburn leaves and the howling wind sends shivers right through you, igniting your desire to sip a warm beverage while you watch “Halloweentown” for the hundredth time.
It can be difficult to satisfy the craving for some fall festivities, especially when classes and responsibility are weighing heavy on your mind. Thankfully many at Truman State University understand this circumstance, and some have set out to help.
Sigma Alpha, Truman’s agricultural sorority, proudly organize their haunted corn maze each year. Junior Jessica Filla is a co-chair of the committee that organizes the entire event.
Filla said the committee first talks to Truman Farm Manager Bill Kuntz, who plants the corn. During the summer, Sigma Alpha members hand-pull the corn to create the maze. They then order event shirts and begin advertising.
“Then all the girls will pick a character according to the theme and they will dress up or figure out an outfit to wear for the maze,” Filla said.
This year’s theme is “Trail of Fearful Tales,” which means the scenes will be based on traditional fairy tales, but the characters will be darker, gorier and scarier.
The maze will feature classic fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood.
Filla said the corn maze will be open 7-10 p.m. today and 8 p.m.-midnight Friday Oct. 26 and Saturday Oct. 27.
Sunday Oct. 29 will be for kids in the community and free for everyone. All other days the cost is $3 with a student ID and $5 without.
“For the kids’ day, we aren’t dressed in our costumes,” Filla said. “We wear either our corn maze t-shirts or, if someone is a scary bunny, they’ll be a fun bunny that day.”
There will also be face painting, games and candy for the kids, Filla added.
Filla recognizes that it is a stressful time of year for Sigma Alpha members too, but afterwards members get together and tell stories about their experiences and how they scared people.
“Once you get out there it’s a really fun time,” Filla said.
Another fall tradition at Truman is Missouri Hall Director Zac Burden’s Night Tour, which happened Monday at 8 p.m and I had the chance to participate.
Since he was a student adviser in 2001, Burden has been leading chilly evening tours around campus telling students, and other interested people, the history of the University. Burden said he has been interested in the University’s history for a really long time and his interest created the idea for the tours.
“The whole point is to take people on a walking tour of the campus and share some of the more interesting stories from our past, examine some of the quirky or funny stories of our history and focus in on having people have a sense of pride in our tradition that we have here, understanding the rich heritage that makes up who we are,” Burden said.
October is a good time for the tours because when it is chilly people can huddle together, sip on hot cider or cocoa and enjoy the stories in that atmosphere. Doing the tours at night, Burden also explained, works more with students’ availability and also adds a bit of intrigue and mystery. That is exactly the experience I had on Monday when, with a mass of more than 30 people, we all huddled together to hear Zac speak.
The tour is not scary and is not meant to be. Burden said he will typically tell one ghost story, because a lot of people want to hear one, but that is not his favorite part. My favorite part was a story, one of Zac’s favorites, about how Truman and the Kirksville community rose together out of the ashes of great tragedy.
“There’s a story that I end with that talks about the aftermath of the big fire in 1924 and it, to me, very effectively shows how [Truman and Kirksville’s] history is interwoven, how our success is dependent upon one another and how time and time again we have seen that realized,” Burden said. “I just love sharing that story.”
Burden said he thinks his storytelling gets better each year, not only in dramatic style, but in historical value and how he is able to piece together the stories.
Burden understands that storytelling can become construed over time and he said he wants to make sure the stories he tells keep moving closer to the truth.
“So many of these stories are things that are fleeting and I hope that if I can learn some of these stories and share them with others, maybe they won’t be so fleeting,” Burden said. “That’s what a storytelling tradition is.”
I laughed a lot on that tour and my hot cider was especially delicious, but I will continue to hold on to those moments when I stood in awe of the spirit and vision that Truman students, faculty and staff had in past years leading us to where we are today. I feel a new sense of purpose in what I do here at Truman to make a lasting impact on its future.
Many students are familiar with the Student Activities Board’s annual pumpkin carving event. A committee of SAB members planned and hosted the event on Oct. 16.
This year the event was called “Harvest Fest,” and the committee did things differently from previous years, SAB president Megan Neveau said.
“In the past, it’s just been called ‘Pumpkin Carving,’ but this year they wanted to add a new unique element to it, so they brought in some fire pits onto the quad,” Neveau said.
The fire pits helped keep people warm and provided a way to make s’mores, which have not been offered in previous years.
Neveau said the committee has been working for months to plan the event. She said the coordinating responsibilities are usually given to a new member.
“It’s an annual event, so there’s a lot of information built up about it, suggestions and advice on how to do things,” Neveau explained.
Neveau said the goal of any SAB event is to get people to have fun in Kirksville and maybe forget, at least for a little while, about school or problems they are having.
One of the most interesting parts of this event is when many international students attend, Neveau said.
“A lot of the international students have never carved pumpkins, so we usually get a big group of them that come by and get to do that for the first time,” Neveau said.
If you missed Harvest Fest, SAB has a few other events planned for October. Comedian Kenan Thompson is scheduled to perform Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
SAB is also hosting a movie night on Halloween, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. in the activities room on the third floor of the Student Union Building. They will be showing “IT” (2017).