At Amherst College, the changing of the season is marked with the changing color of the leaves, the shortening of the daylight hours, and the giant Connect Four board and bounce house on the Valentine Quad.
The annual Fall Festival is always a good draw, attracting a healthy crowd of Amherst students, staff, faculty, family and friends. The October afternoon is filled with fine seasonal treats, games and live music, with just a few omens of Halloween.
Lerato Teffo ’18 (above left), who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, was a little misty about this being her last Fall Festival. “I’d never had clam chowder before,” she said. “It’s awesome.”
Ricky Choi ’18 was also feeling preemptively nostalgic. “I have to get a picture taken with Biddy,” he said.
President Biddy Martin took in the festivities, recording performances with her cell phone. She said she likes best to mingle, and chatted with students at the makeshift cemetery on the quad, while ersatz ghouls floated overhead.
“I like to be with all the students, faculty and staff,” she said. “There’s nothing better than an opportunity to just have simple fun.”
Not to mention the ice cream (she chose vanilla).
“I’m confident with seven, and I’m trying to learn nine,” said Jamie Tucker-Foltz ’19. He and fellow members of the student juggling club tried their hands with clubs and balls in the open air of the quad.
The club meets Sunday afternoons, providing a nice diversion from studies, although Tucker-Foltz, a math and computer science major, can talk about how the changing patterns can be reduced to mathematic relations. Jugglers have developed siteswap notation, which encodes the number of beats of each throw, related to their relative height and the hand to which the throw is to be made.
Students, staff and families joined in the annual pumpkin carving contest.
Aly Levinson ’19 and Crystal Ganatra ’19 took quite literally the injunction to carve something scary on their pumpkins, the former carving the word LOANS and the latter DECAY.
“This is the first time I’ve carved a pumpkin,” said first-year Jasper Flint ’21. But, as someone interested in pursuing a pre-med degree, he was satisfied with his surgical skill.
“The food is amazing, and the music,” said Patrick Lupa of Ludlow, while his wife, Destiny, was getting her face painted with an elaborate flower design. Their son Joshua delighted in his Spider-Man face-painting and matching balloon sculpture of the web-slinger.
The family, who have no connection to the College, have been coming to the festival for three years now.
Some call it “corn hole,” others “dummy boards” or simply “beanbag toss.” Whatever you might call the game, the boards were busy in pretty constant rotation throughout the afternoon. And, of course, analytic Amherst minds came up with various ideas for how best to make the goal.
“You have to get a good arc on it,” said Brandt Dudziak ’20.
“Trying to overshoot is better than undershoot,” said Allan Phillips ’20.
The Fall Festival featured performances from a number of bands and choral groups.
For John Ballard ’20, music director of the Zumbyes—one of the College’s many a cappella ensembles—it was a relatively unusual opportunity to perform for a large crowd on home turf.
“This is probably the most people we’ve performed for here,” he said. “It’s fun to perform for the Amherst College community.”