Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

Is Spring Fair adapting to condensed timeline?

By RUDY MALCOM | March 5, 2020



According to Spring Fair Committee members, there will still be a beer garden this year.

Billed as the nation’s largest student-run festival, Spring Fair has been an annual tradition at Hopkins for nearly half a century. This fall, an organizational review following allegations of hazing, underage drinking and other violations of the Student Conduct Code prevented Spring Fair Committee from planning the celebration, typically a yearlong endeavor.

The audit was led by Executive Director of Student Engagement Laura Stott; Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI) Director Calvin Smith Jr.; and JHUnions and Programming Director Hal Turner. This January, former Spring Fair member Saumya Nimmagadda estimated that, following the audit, more than a third of members were kicked off the committee. Over another third quit, she said, wiping out entire sub-committees.

Given the rushed timeline, former group members expressed concerns about the scope of this year’s festival. In an interview with The News-Letter, senior Elina Hoffmann, the group’s executive chair, argued that there is a misconception about Spring Fair among the student body, citing rhetoric on the Hopkins meme page.

“Negative energy surrounding Spring Fair has been really latched onto. People look forward to Spring Fair and the fear of it being taken away from them has led to this sentiment,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that it’ll be exactly the same, but what students look toward as the big pillars of Spring Fair will still be there… Freshman Quad will look as Freshman Quad should.”

Although there will be no kickoff event on Thursday, April 16, due to time constraints, Hoffmann confirmed that Spring Fair will still have musical performances, a petting zoo and carnival rides — as well as a beer garden. 

According to Hoffmann, delays in communication have not affected Spring Fair Committee’s long-held relationships with local food and arts and crafts vendors. 

“Most of them have been very understanding,” she said.

By January, the artist performing at the headliner concert the Saturday of Spring Fair has usually been selected. Hoffmann declined to predict when the artist will be announced. The concert, which has been held in recent years at Rams Head Live!, will take place in the Recreation (Rec) Center on April 18. 

Senior Alyssa Thomas, one of two members of the Marketing Committee, noted that before 2017, Spring Fair was held on campus. 

Hoffmann stated that the Rec Center can accommodate the same number of students as the venue downtown, if not more. She thinks that the relocation will make the concert more accessible by alleviating transportation difficulties. 

Two weeks ago, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Recreation and Facilities Bill Harrington told The News-Letter that renovations to the Rec Center will affect crowd size during the concert. Hoffmann disagreed.

“We’re aware of the construction, and we’ve taken it into account from the beginning,” she said.

Unlike in previous years, Hoffmann added, Spring Fair Commitee is working with members of the Hopkins Organization for Programming (HOP), the JHUnions Student Programming Board and Hoptoberfest — other large-scale programming groups under JHUnions. Thomas explained this change.

“We could have either decided to scale Spring Fair down or reached out to these student organizations,” she said.

Hoffmann declined to provide a number of students currently on Spring Fair and mentioned that there are generally two co-chairs instead of one executive chair. Nevertheless, she expressed her optimism for Spring Fair 2020.

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to pull off Spring Fair with the amount of members that we have,” she said.

This January, previous Spring Fair Committee members worried that administrators would need to take over budgeting and planning. Hoffman and Thomas said that administrators have been supportive of Spring Fair Committee. 

For example, Hoffman stated that administrative staff are teaching her how to budget and that she is able to access years of the group’s financial documents.

Thomas, who previously served as Spring Fair’s web developer, added that University employees designed a website for this year’s festival, which was launched on Thursday, March 5. She believes that this designation of responsibilities has allowed Spring Fair members to better allocate their energy and resources.

Similarly, Hoffmann said that instead of Spring Fair Committee, Custodial Services will take care of set-up and clean-up at 5:00 a.m. during the weekend of the festival. 

Hoffmann emphasized that administrators will handle more of the nuts and bolts of operations and activities. 

“We took a long and hard look at where we really need student members,” she said.

Hal Turner, Spring Fair’s adviser, told The News-Letter in January that one goal of last semester’s organizational review was to improve the culture of Spring Fair Committee. Thomas reflected on the individuals who are now part of the group.

“There are people on Spring Fair now whose skills, excitement and enthusiasm you might not have had before, given the previous way we went about the application process,” Thomas said. “We get voices we would not necessarily have had before.”

She encouraged students to have high expectations for next month’s festival.

“If you go into it thinking it’s not going to be as great as it was, that’ll impact your experience,” Thomas said. “People should be excited, looking forward to it and hoping for the best.”

Editor’s Note: The print version of this article stated that University employees would soon roll out a website for this year’s festival. After press time, the website was launched. The online version of this article reflects this development.

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