Despite the gusty winds and temperatures in the mid-40s, clear skies and sunlight brought a large crowd to this year’s kickoff of fest season.
It was a clear contrast to last year’s Mill Fest, during which a blanket of heavy clouds and muddy sidewalks made for a gloomy start to fest season.
“Weather is everything with the fest,” Jason White, a junior studying marketing and business analytics said.
David Lee, a sophomore studying communication, said that even though this was only his second Mill Fest, the turnout was much larger than last year.
“This one is more crazy, definitely a lot more people,” Lee said.
Lee and his friend Nick Starner, a sophomore studying sociology-criminology, started their festivities nearly at sunrise. They woke up at 7:30 a.m. to have breakfast at Union Street Diner, and promptly made their way to Mill Street.
“Can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning,” Starner said.
Some partygoers went so far as to cross state lines for Saturday’s festivities. Lindsey Love, a senior studying marketing, flew in from Florida Atlantic University just for Mill Fest.
The large turnout, however, presented a problem for other Athens residents who were attending a funeral on Mill Street.
On Friday, the Ohio University Police Department tweeted that a funeral would take place at the Christ Lutheran Church between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Residents near the church were asked to refrain from playing music from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and partygoers were asked to be “considerate of those grieving.”
“It’s understandable,” Bobby Fleck, a junior studying music production said. “I don’t really care. It’s not like they shut it down completely before it even started.”
Athens Fire Chief Rob Rymer said the procession went smoothly. Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said residents could begin playing music after the hearse left the church, and noted that people were being “very cooperative.”
Saturday was the third Mill Fest for Athens Mayor Steve Patterson, who said every fest he has been to has a “different flavor.”
“For the mayor to be out and about at these kinds of events is the right thing to do,” Patterson said. “Everyone just be good and enjoy themselves.”
Many pets were also in attendance at this year’s Mill Fest. Hailey Matheny, a senior studying engineering technology and management, brought along her dog Crystal, named after the bar on Court Street.
“She’s a party dog,” Matheny said. “She likes to be around people.”
Faith Galloway, a junior studying music production, noted that she did not consider the environment to be “calm and normal.”
“I was just at a party and it got shut down,” Galloway, who is a former Post reporter, said. “There were horse cops (there).”
Police had shut down most nuisance parties by 4 p.m.
A total of 28 people were arrested at this year’s Mill Fest — up from last year’s total of 24.
The Athens Police Department arrested seven people on alcohol-related charges, while the Ohio University Police Department charged six people with 10 alcohol-related offenses. The Ohio Investigative Unit arrested 15 people on 28 different charges, most of which were alcohol-related, according to a City of Athens news release.
Maggie Campbell, Shelby Campbell, Taylor Johnston, Anastasia Nicholas, Maddie Peck and George Shillcock contributed to this report.
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that Faith Galloway is a former Post reporter.