March 20 marked the first day of spring. The fabled time of the year is characterized with fest, rain clouds, sniffling noses and warmer weather.
The Ohio weather has not transitioned into typical spring fashion just yet, with average high temperatures in Athens County sitting at 54 F for the month of March, according to U.S. Climate Data.
The air remains chill, yet campus is set to heat up with fest season swiftly approaching. This weekend will kick off the highly anticipated series of events, with Milliron Fest on Friday followed by Mill Fest on Saturday.
In true spring nature, the weather for the first weekend of fests is less than favorable. Rain showers and cloudy conditions are expected to hit campus on both Friday and Saturday.
However, 68 and Brick Life Entertainment are set to host YSN Flow, an artist with over 200,000 followers and subscribers on Instagram and YouTube to open up the season on Friday.
Fest season will continue throughout the remainder of the semester with Congo, High, Palmer Place and Palmer Fests in April.
“I have not had any experiences with fests because freshman year it didn’t happen because of COVID,” Faith Laughlin, a senior studying applied nutrition, said.
She said sophomore year she also could not attend due to COVID-19, and then said she had to work during fest season last year or had other commitments.
“(I will go to) whatever’s closest to my house,” Laughlin said.
For students who prefer to skip the party and dive into the relaxation spring has to offer, Athens has a ton to indulge in as the weather begins to heat up and students find themselves outside more frequently.
Many campus spots are designed for connecting with friends between the stress of assignments.
Pawprint Park is a newer space on campus, which hosts a hammock park and a more open area designed for events.
The park opened on Oct. 7 and provides a designated area for students to engage in one of the most popular Athens outdoor pastimes: hammocking.
“I think it’s really nice that the university took notice of what the student population was really doing with their time when the weather was nice and put money into that,” Anec Smith, a freshman studying mathematics, said.
Despite this resource, Bobcats can be found hoisted between trees all throughout campus. Students frequently find themselves in hammocks scattered around Emeriti Park, which is located near Baker University Center.
“I have never gone to Emeriti Park, I have only ever ended up in Emeriti Park,” Smith said. “I would be on walks with people at night and we would end up there and find benches and sit.”
The Athens community also frequents the park during the spring for Prom season.
“All of the local high schools come and take pictures at Emeriti and up at the Ridges,” Laughlin said.
Alongside the outdoor spaces fit for hammocking are many other outdoors areas for students to enjoy.
Campus eateries such as West 82, Front Room Coffeehouse and Nelson Court are coupled with outdoor seating areas close by for students to enjoy their meals and beverages.
Additionally, each green on campus features wide open spaces between residence halls to promote time spent outside. Spaces between Bush and Johnson Hall on East Green, Carr and Tanaka Hall on South Green and Sargent and James Hall on West Green are just a few places that are fit for hanging out with friends.
Students can often be spotted playing spike ball, having casual picnics or even just listening to music in their freetime in these spaces.
Students can also opt to spend time relaxing on the plethora of benches situated on college green and just about everywhere on campus.
On top of the many options for students that are truly available all year round are the cherry blossoms in the spring. Each year the attention-drawing flowers bloom along the Hocking River.
The trees have been a sight to see since they were donated in 1979 by Chubu University, located in Kasugai Japan, to commemorate OU's 175th anniversary.
“I have been walking towards that end of Athens just waiting to see when they’re out,” Mia Walsh, a junior studying journalism, said. “I really just cannot wait. I’m excited to experience that part of Athens.”
With so much time spent outside whether it be at a fest, in a hammock or simply sitting at an outdoor table with friends, allergy season is sure to take campus by storm too.
According to the CDC, as many as 60 million people suffer from seasonal allergies each year. As pollen flurries circulate the air a large portion of the OU community will find themselves burdened with the sniffles, congestion and sneezing.
“I don’t know if it was a ploy or a really good marketing tactic but a woman (at the Athens Farmers Market) told me to eat local honey to combat seasonal allergies,” Walsh said. “I’ve stuck to that, … and I have noticed my symptoms going down.”
However, after a dose of daily allergy medication and possibly a pack of tissues to go, people should be ready to head back out to explore the outdoors in whatever capacity they choose.