By Lauren Lavelle
Students and faculty were welcomed to celebrate the start of the new school year with food and fun at the annual Cranberry Fest on Sept. 16, one of Rider’s most anticipated events.
“It is important to keep Cranberry Fest a tradition because of the community aspect it gives the students of Rider University,” said Anna Sanzone, sophomore musical theater major and chair of campus traditions for the student entertainment council. “It establishes a sense of togetherness and makes Rider a safe and welcoming environment for academics, and all the events and lifelong friendships made daily.”
Originally held during free period on the Campus Lawn, Cranberry Fest has now evolved into a weekend event accompanied by entertainment, food and prizes from various clubs on campus.
“This is the second year since Cranberry Fest has moved to the weekend,” said Nicholas Barbati, assistant director of campus life for activities and student engagement. “The attendance was great, and it allowed for a much more relaxed atmosphere without having to run quickly back to class or meetings.”
According to Barbati, coordinator of the event since 2007, he and his team began planning the festival months in advance to ensure that the overall quality of the event was better than ever.
“Cranberry Fest is a large-scale event that requires months of preparation from selection of the menu, to the band and all the activities in between,” he said. “A team of students and administrators came together to bring all the elements into a beautiful kickoff event for our community.”
“For about two months leading up to the start of school, I researched and reached out via phone and email to multiple businesses and entertainment groups that provided our attractions,” added Sanzone. “Other groups and organizations made contributions as well and provided the food and tables set up on the Campus Mall.”
Featured at the event was a live band, an intense obstacle course, several inflatable activities, a beer garden for students 21 and over and Caribbean cuisine that Barbati believes set this year’s celebration apart.
“Cranberry Fest has always had a wonderful selection of music, activities and food,” he said. “We added a reggae and Caribbean flare to the style of the program this year with the type of music and food we provided.”
From the immense planning to the thought-out activities, the Rider community will not be seeing the end of this tradition anytime soon.
“Cranberry Fest celebrates our entire community coming together for the first time during the school year,” said Barbati. “It really sets the tone for programming for the rest of the year.”