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Weather dampens second Fest weekend

Congo Fest, 6-8 p.m. 

This year’s annual Congo Fest, which is held on Congress Street, began at 6 p.m. Friday with cold, rainy conditions. Despite the weather, students gathered on North Congress Street to partake in house parties. 

Alexa Sotak, a junior studying nursing, hosted a party for Congo Fest. She said she threw a party just to have a good time. 

“We were excited to have it because we have to move for my senior year,“ Sotak said. "We were like, ‘Honestly, why not throw a party for Congo fest?’ Even though it's really crappy out, we go to OU and that's the Bobcat spirit.”

Sotak said about 40-50 people attended her party. 

Andrew Morman, a junior studying health services administration major, said there were fewer Ohio University students attending the block party than anticipated. 

“It seems like this is a slower Fest,” Mormon said. “Not a lot of people appreciate what Congo could be.”

While large gatherings were limited, smaller parties were seen along Congress Street.

Maggie Nolan, a senior studying psychology, hosted a party on North Congress Street. Nolan said she has always loved having people over and is using Fest to celebrate her birthday.

“I just thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday and Congo,” Nolan said.

Liz Zimmer, a junior studying civil engineering major, attended Nolan’s party. Zimmer said she does not have set plans for other events.

“I am in college (and) it's important to get out there socially, and if I'm feeling up to it, I should go,” Zimmer said. 

Sophia Myers, a senior studying accounting, attended a party at the end of the street and said she braved the weather because she loves the culture of OU’s Fest Season.

“We’re always down to have a good time,” Myers said.

Myers added that because she is graduating in May, she plans on hanging out with her friends to celebrate the rest of the weekend’s festivities.

“We're just looking to have a good time hanging out with our friends, and make as many memories as we possibly can,” Myers said.

8-10 p.m.

Congo Fest grew with partygoers gathering on porches and overflowing onto the sidewalk, especially toward the end of the street. 

Torbjorn Degraffenreid Winter, a recent graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, was among those standing outside a house party. 

Degraffenreid and his friends had no set plans for the night, but he said they were going to check out parties along Congress Street. 

The cold and rainy weather was probably going to deter a lot of people from attending Congo Fest, Degraffenreid said. 

“Congo Fest is always sort of bottom-tier-ish thing,” Degraffenreid said. “It's cold and it's rainy, and I don’t think anybody is going to come out.” 

Moving farther up North Congress, the parties started to become scarce. Colin Duber, a senior studying marketing, said he believed it was because of the growing distance from uptown bars. 

Some underclassmen enjoyed Congo Fest while other students, who have experienced Congo before, said this year’s festivities were not as fun as last year’s.

Chloe Eberlein, a sophomore studying early childhood and elementary education, said last year’s Congo Fest was much more active and fun. 

Eberlein said Congo was not as fun as last year’s because those parties lasted longer without the police shutting the parties down. 

“This year (the police) are definitely being more strict,” Eberlein said. “They're shutting down parties a lot faster than normal, and with all this Palmer Fest stuff going on too, Fest Season is not the same.” 

Elberlein said she suspected people were also not as active in preparation for High Fest the following day. 

However, Tanner Smith, a junior studying social work, said he liked how “chill” Congo Fest usually seems to be. 

“I love Congo Fest,“ Smith said. "It’s very chill. Out of all of the Fests, it's like just the most chill Fest we have, I feel like. We're just able to day drink and have fun.”

Later in the night, after a house at the end of the street was shut down, several parties moved indoors or stayed in small groups on front porches. 

People began walking toward Court Street, leaving Congress Street almost empty around 9:30 p.m.

High Fest, 10 a.m. to noon

A modest crowd of students gathered along High Street for High Fest around 10 a.m. despite the windy weather. 

Dylan Patterson, a sophomore studying political science pre-law and physical activity and sports coaching, said High Fest was dead in the morning, but it was a fun day. 

“I had a lot of fun last year,“ Patterson said. "Waiting for everyone to come out, but it’s a great day to drink. (There’s) nothing better to do on a Saturday,”

Grady Lentz-Pieffer, a freshman studying business, said he’s excited about having fun with his friends.

“(I’m enjoying) the combination of my friends and having a good time,” Lentz said. “We’re here at 10 a.m., everybody woke up, and we’re having a good time.”

Activity picked up as more people trickled in but parties mainly stayed within the confines of houses along High Street.

Residents blew bubbles, local musicians performed on porches and DJs blasted music that could be heard up and down the block.

Braden Riley, a senior studying entrepreneurship, said he was most excited about the music.

“I just want to stand by the DJ board the whole time and blow my ears out,” Riley said. 

Occasionally, police patrol cars circled the area while emergency services were stationed nearby at the Athens Middle School, located at 51-55 W. High St. 


1-3 p.m.

Around 1 p.m., the Athens Police Department deployed its equestrian forces to patrol North and South High Streets while festivities were ongoing.

APD officers lined the streets on foot and congregated at busier intersections to keep watch of the festivities throughout the afternoon.

However, some partygoers said the turnout was smaller than in previous years.

“It honestly seems a little less crowded than it was (last year),” Henry Wollerman, a sophomore studying engineering technology and management, said.

Wollerman said last year for High Fest, he saw massive crowds of people partying loudly outside his dorm.

”(My entire friend group and I) were looking out the window, (and) we just saw massive crowds of people and figured we’d join,” Wollerman said.

Aidan Cox, a sophomore studying classics and religious studies, is from Athens and has experienced a lot of Fests.

“I’ve been experiencing this since I was little,“ Cox said. "Halloween especially was crazy. When I was little, I would walk to the elementary school after and see condoms everywhere.”






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