The Welcome Back WKU Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, Aug. 30, on South Lawn. Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce partners, including local businesses and restaurants, will set up tents and offer food, activities and giveaways to students.
The purpose of the festival is to allow WKU and the Chamber of Commerce to bring the Bowling Green community to the students, said Director of WKU Campus and Community Events Rachel Goodman.
“Instead of having to go out into the community and find all these different places, [students] can literally stay on campus and travel from tent to tent, booth to booth, to learn the community surrounding our campus,” she said.
Goodman said she feels educating students about what the community has to offer is beneficial to both students and Chamber partners.
“For all of the businesses, you’ve got students’ undivided attention for a couple of minutes, and a lot of times, the better the giveaway, the longer you keep the students in the tent, the more likely they are to maybe come see you later,” she said.
Goodman also feels Chamber partners’ abilites to establish connection with students through the festival is beneficial.
“Establishing that contact and that face-to-face interaction to me is priceless, so they have one-on-one contact with students for a certain amount of time that [they] would not normally have,” she said.
Chamber partners will be offering several giveaways, including packages from businesses, prizes, pizza, laundry detergent, food samples, ramen noodles and drinks, Goodman said.
Chamber partners will also offer games like spin wheels and cornhole to win prizes.
According to Goodman, the festival has gone well in past years, and it typically attracts about 2,500 to 3,000 students.
Goodman said WKU is grateful for the partnership it has with the Chamber of Commerce and for the ability to organize the festival.
“I think it’s been a valuable partnership with the Chamber, and we are grateful to be a part of it,” she said.
Program and events director for the chamber of commerce Katie Dykes said she feels all students can benefit from attending the festival.
“The festival is great for students whether they are a freshman or a senior, new to Bowling Green or have lived here all their life,” she said. “Our vendors are there to promote their student discounts, available jobs, internships [and] volunteer opportunities and more.”
Dykes said the Chamber partners look forward to the event every year.
“WKU students and their visiting families have a big economic impact on our local businesses,” she said. “With this event, our partners have the opportunity to welcome the students and showcase their businesses to a large number of students in just one afternoon.”
Like Goodman and Dykes, Vice President of Community and Public Policy for the Chamber of Commerce Kim Phelps also feels the festival is beneficial to students and Chamber partners.
“WKU is a vital part of our community, and this event gives us the chance to meet students face to face and help them familiarize themselves with local businesses and available opportunities,” Phelps said.
Phelps said the festival is one of the most popular events at the Chamber and that the Chamber has a strong connection with WKU.
She said she hopes the festival will encourage students to “feel at home in Bowling Green” and be part of the Bowling Green community.
“Bowling Green is a great place to live, work, and play,” she said. “Each year we look forward to Western students coming back to town and bringing their special blend of excitement to everything we do. We hold this event each year to welcome them home and look forward to them being part of this community for a long time to come.”
Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]