Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2021
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COURTESY OF MOE ALGHAWI

Hopkins students enjoyed gathering in large groups for outdoor activities after a virtual Hoptoberfest last year.

Hoptoberfest, the annual festival put on by the Hoptoberfest student organization which marks the start of fall, was held in person Monday, Oct. 4 through Friday, Oct. 8. Following the virtual festival held last year, this year’s festival brought back on-campus activities including a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, group yoga, mug decoration, movie night and a concert by Zella Day. 

Sophomore Isabella Madruga commended the organizers in an interview with The News-Letter.

“Everything was really well organized considering it’s still COVID-19 and that this is the first time we’re back on campus in a long while,” she said.

In interviews with The News-Letter, junior Hoptoberfest Co-Chair Moe Alghawi and senior Co-Chair Yvette Baily-Emberson reflected on planning an in-person Hoptoberfest after a year of virtual activity. 

“It was definitely a challenge having to work around the COVID-19 guidelines, such as indoor person limit and food restrictions, but I think people are genuinely just happy that Hoptoberfest is back and freshmen and sophomores can experience it for the first time,” Alghawi said.

Bailey-Emberson explained that the team has been planning since last spring, and a lot of their struggles came from last-minute changes due to COVID-19 restrictions and budget cuts. 

“This year’s planning had a lot of stop-and-go because we weren’t sure what we were going to be able to do with COVID-19. A lot of our events used to circle around giveaways and food, which we can’t do anymore. We had to rethink some of the events to work with COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

However, she was thankful to be able to do things in person, even if that meant implementing attendee caps and providing prepackaged food.

Alghawi added that he was surprised at the high turnout at the pumpkin patch, petting zoo and Field Day and was happy that the students had fun. 

At the kickoff event, students enjoyed activities listening to music and decorating mugs as well as a temporary haunted house. 

Freshman Jasmine Wu reflected on her experience at the haunted house.

“The employees [at the haunted house] were really lovely, and they made the whole thing very believable by staying in character and messing with us a little,” she said. “This was definitely an interesting experience.”

Freshman Elleene Kim agreed that  the haunted house was impressive.

“I actually wasn’t expecting much because I just saw this little trailer parked out in the back, but surprisingly, it was a lot more elaborate and cooler than I thought,” she said. “I really liked the part where they put us into the mine elevator and it was shaking us; I thought that was really fun. And they did really well for the tiny space they had.”

The Carnival Field Day was another well-attended event, which featured student groups competing against each other and games such as ski ball, horseshoe toss, hammer strength test and a tug-of-war. Winners also took home mugs, shirts and blankets.

Sophomore Caitlyn Bernhard, who designed the Hoptoberfest T-shirt, reflected on watching students react to the T-shirt she designed.

“It was so weird seeing my design absolutely everywhere, but it was kind of fun to see people get so excited about getting a T-shirt before they had any idea that I had designed it,” she said.

Junior Feng Lu enjoyed having fun with a large group of Hopkins students.

“I competed with my buddies in games just like we were in high school,” he said. “While I was on Decker Quad throwing the football, watching people playing tug-of-war, though I knew I still had a lot of work to do, I hoped the day never ended.”

Field day was sophomore Journey Morrison’s favorite Hoptoberfest event.

“I couldn’t attend too many of the other events due to midterms, but having that opportunity to finally relax was great,” she said. “This was my first time at Hoptoberfest so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the prizes were great. I enjoyed watching different special events like President Daniels potato-sack racing or the wrestling team versus other students in a tug-of-war.”

Madruga also mentioned experiencing difficulties attending Hoptoberfest due to midterms. She wished the festival had been scheduled later in the month, toward Halloween.

Lu, however, considered the festival a reprieve between his midterms.

“Hoptoberfest revived the part of me that valued friendship and school spirit,” he said.

Despite being pleased with Hoptoberfest overall, some students noted changes to the festival they hope to see in the future. 

According to sophomore Ellie Chen, the number of pumpkins supplied at the pumpkin patch event was insufficient for the number students who were present. Sophomore Akshay Venkat explained that he went to the pumpkin patch event 15 minutes early for that reason. 

Sophomore Daniel Mousavi also emphasized that better marketing would help attract more students.

“I had no idea this was happening,” he said. “I was walking to the library, and that is how I knew about the petting zoo.” 

Xinyue Gu, Angela Chen and Kaila Griswold contributed reporting to this article.

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