Ohio University students participated in Friday’s Congo Fest with hopes of enjoying as many experiences as Milliron Fest and Mill Fest, which took place March 18 and 19, respectively.
Around 3 p.m., Congo Fest had already started at 69 N. Congress St. The size of the crowd steadily increased within the next hour, and houses nearby had also started welcoming students.
Catherine Sommer, a senior studying integrated media, said she expected more students to participate in this year’s Congo Fest to make up for past fests that were canceled due to COVID-19.
“I think that Congo Fest this year is much bigger than it was my freshman year,” Sommer said. “Every person on the street I've seen has a poster (or) has a sign. I know our house, our neighbors and then the next house are all having parties.”
Courtney Williams, a senior studying marketing, who also lives at 69 N. Congress St., agreed that Congo Fest this year should bring out a lot of students.
“I hope a lot of people come. We have a big group of friends who all said that they're coming, but it's not supposed to start until four, so it'll probably get filled up kind of soon,” Williams said.
A local businessman, Dan Harlett, decided to take advantage of the increased foot traffic on Congress by setting up his food truck — The Cheesie Weenie — in the parking lot of the Southeast Ohio History Center located on North Congress Street.
“I double checked where I'm allowed to vend, where I’m allowed to set up (and) got my correct permits,” Harlett said. “I'm setting up in the (History Center) parking lot and donating 10% of my sales back to the (History Center). I knew it'd be a busy spot on Congress (because of) Congo Fest, so I wanted to take advantage of that.”
Meredith Webster, a freshman studying international business and marketing and experiencing her first fest season this year, said she enjoyed the experience and had a great time.
“For Mill Fest, we didn't go out on Friday, but we participated on Saturday,” Webster said. “It was so much fun. We met so many people and did so many crazy things.”
As the day continued, more people showed up to Congress Street, and parties began to appear along the length of the street.
“I thought (Mill Fest) was one of the best experiences I've had at OU,” Anna Grabowski, a freshman studying finance and management and leadership and strategic leadership, said. “I think it's what makes OU special and I think … it brings everyone together.”
The social aspect of fest season has been cited by many students as their favorite part of OU parties.
Being able to meet new people is the best part of participating in fests, and people shouldn’t be afraid to socialize with new people when they go out, Bryce Belcher, a sophomore studying nursing, said.
Webster echoed Belcher’s opinion of the opportunities fests provide for socializing and said she had met many people during Mill fest.
“I know a lot of times … college students have different opinions on things, but this is like the one time where everyone's just like, ‘let's have fun,’” Webster said. “We've been working hard all year, let's have fun.”