Athens has been widely known for its fests. The area is recognized for its party culture, with the university having its fair share of party statistics in the past, and its reputation has had a lot to do with fest seasons that have been held throughout the years.
While there are several set fests that occur annually, over the last decade there have been a few spontaneous fests that have served as a surprise to its students, and have created numerous memories for many of those who call Athens home.
One particular unplanned fest, called fugitive fest, involved the impromptu partying after campus alerts were sent out about an armed fugitive being on the loose. Nate Zody, who graduated from Ohio University in 2019, works at Lucky’s Sports Tavern. At the time of fugitive fest, Zody explained that he was at work, and the reactions amongst his coworkers was comical.
“My coworkers asked me what I would do if the fugitive came in here, and I told them that I was just gonna serve him,” Zody said. “I figured he ran away from the cops, and he’s not getting out any time soon, so I might as well get him drunk and give him some good food.”
While working at the bar, Zody noticed the influx of customers as students had gotten out of class and learned of the spontaneous fest.
“A lot of students started coming out after campus got alerts,” Zody said. “They all collectively decided that since they weren’t gonna be in class, they were gonna go drink instead.”
Marissa McDaid, a 2014 OU graduate, is the associate director of communications at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. During the time of the alerts, McDaid was also at work at the university.
“My junior year, I was at my PACE internship, and my supervisor came in the room and put her hands on my shoulders and told me to go home, shut all my blinds and lock all my doors,” McDaid said. “I was so confused, but she told me there was an armed fugitive on campus and that an email went out about campus being closed.”
While many students flocked to the bars upon hearing the news, McDaid chose to go home instead. She expressed that there was an overall sense of confusion across campus.
“It was a very weird walk across college green,” McDaid said. “It was weird to have the area be that busy because if you think about it you only see campus between class changes, and that’s pretty crowded itself, but when you have all classes and work being let out at the same time, you saw so many people.”
Aside from rarely low temperatures, there are several other incidents that have caused classes to be cancelled. On multiple occasions, Athens experienced flooding issues, which deemed the canceled days ‘flood fests.’
Jarrett Quanrud, who graduated from OU in 2018, described his first experience with a flood fest his junior year in winter 2017.
“There was a water main break and a lot of Athens didn’t have water,” Quanrud said. “So we had that day off school and the water wasn’t safe to drink, so we all decided to drink beer instead.”
For Zody, the impromptu flood fest was a detraction from his responsibilities, and allowed him to enjoy a memorable day with his friends.
“I remember (the fest) because I was woefully underprepared for a midterm that I had completely forgotten about,” Zody said. “We left our apartment and we saw this geyser of water shooting out down by the golf course. So then we got a bunch of texts that said, ‘Hey flood fest, go down to the bars.’ It was a lot of fun, kind of just spur of the moment.”
While many fests have begun due to an administered cancellation by the university, some fests, however, were chosen entirely by the students. One particular fest, titled 80s fest, was an unprompted day in February 2018 when the weather was 80 degrees. Quanrud explained large groups of students jointly chose to ditch their prior obligations, and instead, throw a party.
“Basically everyone that I was friends with blew off everything they had that day and just decided it was too nice of a day to pass up,” Quanrud said. “We went to Strouds Run and we spent some time out there, then we came back and threw on summer clothes and drank Corona Light on the porch for the entire day.”
Despite his previous commitments, Quanrud expressed having no regrets for participating in the fest rather than tending to them.
“It was also the same day that I was supposed to go to a meeting with a previous employer that I had an internship with and I really didn't want to go to it, so I basically just drank Corona Light instead and didn’t show up,” Quanrud said. “It was a pretty good excuse because it was 80 degrees in February.”
While the fests were unplanned, Quanrud expressed that they were some of his most enjoyable experiences during his time in Athens.
“Probably some of the best times I had in Athens were the impromptu fests and not the planned ones,” Quanrud said. “Some of them weren’t big enough to have a name, but I’d end up at my friends house and it just kind of turns into a party. When you’re not expecting it, and it’s a really nice day, those are the most fun.”