Students, families and alumni celebrated the Fairfield University’s annual Alumni and Family Weekend Friday, Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 23.  

A host to multiple events, ceremonies, games and more, this year’s Alumni and Family Weekend brought back a fan favorite: Stagfest! 

Having a great image of Stagfest in my mind, as I absolutely loved attending with my family and friends last year, I was excited for its return. However, upon arriving at Stagfest with my family this year, I can honestly say that I felt underwhelmed. 

I think it was the location of this year’s Stagfest that really threw me off. Last year, the event was held on the beautiful, scenic Bellarmine Hill. On the path leading to Bellarmine Hall, there were various activities and games to take part in. There was axe throwing, a petting zoo, bouncy houses, music and more. Having these activities line the walkway to the main event created an anticipatory, welcoming entrance. 

This year, I was just about ready to head back up to Bellarmine Hill for some fun, when one of my roommates informed me that Stagfest was to take place outside of Rafferty Stadium this year instead. It was a good thing I was informed or else I would have ended up on a deserted Bellarmine Hill! 

At last year’s Stagfest, my family and I stayed for hours, chatting with friends and participating in the various activities. This year, it felt too large, too crowded and too spread out. I barely ran into anyone I knew and we did not end up staying long at all. 

Up on Bellarmine Hill, students and families could take in the beautiful scenery, enjoy some food and drink with an ocean view. At Rafferty stadium, it felt like we were just in the middle of a parking lot rather than exploring the beauties of Fairfield’s campus. I also found the location to be overcrowded. The lines for food trucks and food vouchers were way too long and there were no empty, shaded seats to sit and enjoy.  

There were a few activities that I found myself missing from last year as well. Axe throwing was an activity that did not make a re-appearance this year. Though I was not very good at the game, missing the target almost every single time, it was a different and fun experience that I sincerely missed this year. 

The petting zoo was another aspect of Stagfest that I felt was lacking this year. Last year, I remember petting goats, ponies, rabbits, pigs and more. This year, the petting zoo was significantly smaller and did not contain nearly as many animals. However, I still enjoyed my time holding the adorable rabbits that did make an appearance at this year’s event. 

Though I certainly enjoyed last year’s Stagfest more than this year’s, there was one aspect of the event that remained excellent: the pep rally! It is in the pep rally in which some of Fairfield’s greatest talent is showcased and the excitement for the upcoming basketball season grows. With performances from the Fairfield University Pep Band, Dance Team and Cheerleaders, this year’s pep rally was just as entertaining and exciting as the last. This year’s pep rally was especially exciting with the opening of the new Leo D. Mahoney Arena in November. 

What I have learned in comparing the two Stagfests that I have attended, is that the location can really make or break the event. 

I enjoyed Stagfest 2021 on Bellarmine Hill far more than Stagfest 2022 at Rafferty Stadium; but, you will still find me at Stagfest 2023 next year, no matter the location. It is an Alumni and Family Weekend tradition here at Fairfield University, and each year it presents both new and old activities and opportunities. 

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be just as surprised to learn that next year’s Stagfest will be held at a completely new location. Secretly, though, I am rooting for it to take place again on Bellarmine Hill.

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