Every year, Fairfield holds a weekend-long celebration in October where past graduates and the families of current students gather together to celebrate their relationship to Fairfield.
Over 30 events from concerts to sporting events and other entertainment and alumni events comprised the Oct. 24-26 schedule for Alumni & Family Weekend.
Fairfield @ Night sponsored the showing of “Minions” and “Ant-Man” in the Gonzaga Auditorium on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Sophomore Phillip Amarante was one of the many students who attended. Unlike normal movie nights, he noted the greater presence of adults at the showing.
Sporting events were also a popular attraction of this weekend. Alumni of the ice hockey, baseball and women’s lacrosse teams gathered on Saturday, as well as current members of the Fairfield’s men’s club rugby team who played the Montauk Rugby Club.
Though the athletic events of the weekend did not attract an unusually large crowd, the other activities of the weekend did, according to Colleen Wilson, program director for F@N and the Fairfield University Student Association. She said that “all the non-athletic ticket events such as the hypnotist and Glee Club concert were sold out.”
The height of Alumni & Family Weekend occurred Saturday with the Fall Concert, which was preceded by the Fairfield Rising Expo, which was located outside of Rafferty Stadium. This expo showcased the goals and purpose of the Fairfield Rising campaign, a campaign set to raise funds for various university improvements.
This year’s Fall Concert drew a notably large crowd. About 2,300 people were recorded as attending, more than two-thirds of the 3,000 visitors on campus recorded as attending over the weekend.
FUSA President Anif McDonald ‘16 says he was not surprised by the attendance this weekend. He explained that the difference between this year’s Alumni & Family Weekend versus past years was the concert. “When you are choosing an artist for Alumni & Family Weekend, you kind of have to tend to the older crowd and the little children, making sure there is nothing vulgar.”
Senior Rachel Emmanuelle, a director of featured artists for the FUSA Programing Board, provided insight on booking the Temptations Review, as well as the contemporary duo Matt and Kim.
“Over the summer, with the help of our former advisor Fred Kuo and FUSA’s executive board, we had meetings with the advancement office to co-sponsor the Fall Concert on Alumni & Family Weekend. Together we contacted our booking agent to pick acts that would appeal to both families and students. We decided on the Temptations and Matt and Kim because we thought they were both family-friendly, but also a lot of fun and upbeat.”
According to McDonald, the Office of University Advancement reached out to FUSA for a collaboration. Combining their budget with FUSA’s concert budget, they were able to provide a larger performance.
“When we had both of those budgets FUSA was able to help co-sponsor along with advancement to help out Fairfield Rising. Because that is the bigger picture of it all. Alumni & Family Weekend is a perfect time for that. You have the alums, who are seeing what FUSA is doing, and they get to see what advancement is doing, and they get to see the student body as a whole.”
However, some students such as Julianne O’Connell ‘18 felt a little uncomfortable at the event.
“I think it was a group that could have been just for college students. I think that bringing parents into it was kind of weird. I asked my parents if they wanted to go to the concert and they said ‘Who is it?’ and I said, ‘Matt and Kim’ and they said, ‘Who’s that?’ So we ended up not going because of that.”
Junior Olivia DiTomaso disagreed, and felt the event was perfectly suited for the family-oriented weekend. “This was my third Family and Alumni Weekend and I believe it was one of the busiest weekends. My mom and I went to the concert. It was a great event for students and parents to enjoy. I like how they featured an oldies band, The Temptations, that my mom enjoyed, and then closed with Matt and Kim, more contemporary music. I think that FUSA did a great job. This was by far the best event because not only could I spend it with my friends, but also with my mom.”
Prior to the concert, students, their families and alumni could also enjoy food trucks and beer garden. According to Wilson, about 1,400 beer packages were purchased and 6,300 Taste of Fairfield tickets sold. McDonald commented that the food trucks and beer garden seemed to be popular amongst families, and he is sure that the University will continue these aspects of in future Alumni & Family Weekends.
To round out Saturday evening and Sunday, masses were held that garnered an attendance of over 500 people. On Sunday morning families also had a chance to attend “Boo at the Zoo,” a Halloween-themed event located at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Freshman Katie Jones ‘19, who attended Sunday Mass, said she observed that “not a seat in the chapel was empty. It was really nice to see all of the families and alumni coming together to celebrate and give thanks for being able to reconnect with students and Fairfield University.”