It was a cool, brisk Autumn day as the sun gleamed down on Truman State University’s Quad Oct. 12 — ideal conditions for the Students Activities Board to hold its Harvest Festival, besides the lively winds that lifted up some of the tied down tablecloths.
Luckily, an abundance of locally-grown pumpkins made perfect table-weights. These fall mainstays spanned across The Quad, ranging in size and frumpy appearance. Attendees were encouraged to choose their own to personalize with both carving and painting tools alike.
These activities are typical of SAB events during the fall but have become complicated amid a global pandemic. Sophomore Katie Whale, event chair for the Harvest Festival, said seasonal crafts were adjusted for social distancing considerations.
“All the workers wear gloves, and usually there’s a hodgepodge of knives and spoons and you could just grab what you want, but because of COVID, we’ve split up the tables and we made sure each table had the right amount of scoops and brushes,” Whale explained.
In addition to these alterations, other Harvest Festival activities were also modified to meet current safety standards. The drinks table, typically a self-serve station, was monitored by an SAB member who manually distributed cups to students. While participants could not pour their own beverages this year, they could still appreciate the warmth of hot chocolate and apple cider before slipping their masks back on to enjoy the festivities.
Although participants remained relatively distant, conversation still flowed throughout the tables. Attendees and SAB staff debated about topics such as tastes in Halloween music and candy.
The event attracted a fairly large turnout, with many interested in painting pumpkins rather than carving. Seniors Kacey Waldrop and Jennifer Stroops and Sophomore Emily Radkins agreed that this choice to paint was because carved pumpkins rot faster.
The three each created different designs for their pumpkins. Stroops was painting “spook season” on hers with some ghosts, Radkins had the idea of painting on a skeleton and Waldrop was going to paint “student loans” for hers.
Whale noted that the pumpkins used for the event were locally sourced and bought.
“Because of COVID actually, they raised the price of the pumpkins because there’s a shortage, but rightfully so because we had a lot of competition getting the pumpkins,” Whale said. “We get it from a private farmer who grows his own pumpkins.”
SAB also made efforts to include buckets around the tables for people to dispose of their pumpkin materials so they could be composted. This initiative was implemented with the help of Rot Riders, the campus composting organization, to make sure the pumpkins were taken to the University Farm’s compost pile.
Students can look forward to other fall events from SAB this semester, including a costume contest and showing of “Halloweentown” at 7 p.m. Oct. 31 in Baldwin Auditorium.