Armstrong Student Center was buzzing. In every hallway, around every corner and in nearly every cranny of the building, students milled and bustled about, folding paper, putting up signs and making sure that their assigned areas looked as dazzling as possible.
Despite the fact that Wednesday, Feb. 6 was cold, gray and rainy outside, preparations for Winter Mega Fair were in full swing. At 4:30 in the afternoon, 30j minutes before the event was set to begin, it was already hard to find a quiet section in the building as students scurried to secure their spots and set up their stands.
Because Mega Fair was cancelled last semester, one of the main sources of new members for student organizations simply didn’t happen. This semester, Winter Mega Fair was adjusted to accommodate as many organizations as possible, and various parts of Armstrong were utilized.
Unlike previous years, the extracurricular extravaganza spanned multiple parts of Armstrong; students stood at booths in front of Emporium, they advertised their clubs outside of Café Lux and they spilled out of Fritz pavillion onto the landing of the third floor.
As they set up trifolds and straightened their sign-up sheets, the members of the student organizations chatted amongst themselves, adding to the constant hum that filled the building.
“Hey, do you guys have a marker I could borrow?” one student asked of the group next to him as he realized his organization’s name was missing a letter on his display.
Another group, a few booths down, chuckled about how they’d run out of the cookies they were offering well before the event began if they didn’t stop eating them.
Amidst the slew of student organizations, a handful of students wandered around, both upstairs and down, scouting the selection of clubs that had gathered. But although there were still a few minutes before the event began in earnest, the ratio of organizations to interested attendees was heavily skewed toward the organizations.
An hour and a half later, well into the runtime of the fair, that ratio had changed significantly.
“We can estimate that there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people there,” said JS Bragg, assistant director of student activities for Miami Activities and Programming. “Winter Mega Fair is typically much smaller in attendance than this, but we expected this turnout.”
Bragg said that the decision to expand the fair beyond the confines of the upstairs pavillion was made to allow as many organizations to participate as possible.
Jordan Podojil, event planning director for Miami University Fashion and Design (MUFD), was tucked in the corner of the building with the rest of her organization during the event. Their booth was right outside of Emporium, far away from the main pavillion. And although there were many students in attendance, Podojil said MUFD’s booth didn’t get much traffic.
“I feel like because of how spread out all the tables were, I think it was hard for certain people to find certain sections,” Podojil said. “We were set up by a bunch of musical organizations, and that might have confused some people.”
Rory Sikes, a sophomore attendee, agreed with Podojil.
“It was hard to find where some things were,” Sikes said. “Like, I didn’t even know that there were organizations by Lux until I was heading that way to leave.”
Despite the spread-out nature of the fair, some clubs seemed excited by the increased size. Ally Astles, founder of the Miami Jump Rope club, said that this was her organization’s first time participating in a Mega Fair.
“This is our first time really getting exposure to the student body,” Astles said. “We just want to get into contact with as many people as possible and let them know what we’re about.”
For others, a bigger fair didn’t necessarily mean altered strategies. Theo Mesnick is the recruitment chair for the MU Red Dragons martial arts club, and said that thanks to recruitment outside of Mega Fair, the club didn’t have a lot to worry about this semester.
“We got a lot of new members last semester, even though Mega Fair was cancelled,” Mesnick said. “So we didn’t really do anything special for this Mega Fair.”
Whether the larger fair excited or intimidated those involved, Bragg says that MAP, as well as Miami’s SEAL (Student Engagement and Leadership) ambassadors, are already working hard for next semester.
“We’re currently in the process of planning for Fall Mega Fair,” Bragg said. “We’ve looked at every potential solution, we’ve done focus groups with students to find out what they’re interested in and we’re doing everything we can to ensure a successful Fall Mega Fair this year and well into the future.”