By Nicole Calacal
Cranberry Fest is an annual tradition that kicks off the start of the school year, delivering live music, a variety of food, games and more.
The root of this celebration dates back to 1979, commemorating the founder of the school, Andrew J. Rider.
“He retired to be a cranberry bog farmer in South Jersey,” said Nick Barbati, assistant director of campus life for activities and student engagement. “He was so successful, he was dubbed ‘The Cranberry King’ of New Jersey. That’s kind of how we received our school color of cranberry and white.”
The Campus Mall buzzed with activity on Sept. 22 as vendors and staff started preparing the food while the band, Dumm, began to warm up to provide music for the event. Students started arriving, many of whom wore t-shirts representing their fraternities and sororities.
Among the food choices were Caribbean and Mexican cuisines and an assortment of desserts.
The band played a mix of unforgettable old school favorites to more recent popular songs, ranging from hits like “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds to “Closer” by The Chainsmokers.
Some of the activities featured a mechanical bull, bounce houses and a mobile zip line. The zip line was a popular attraction with the students. Senior marketing major Judy Wong was one of the few who were able to avoid the long line.
“When I first got out, there was no one on the zip line,” Wong said. “I’ve been on it twice today.”
Another crowd favorite was the mechanical bull with people, including AJ the Bronc, trying to hold on for as long as they could. It proved to be fun, even for those who didn’t ride it.
“My favorite part has been watching everybody fall off the bull,” said Jenna Dean, a sophomore education major.
The Rider community, consisting of students, faculty, staff and family members, gathered at the celebration to enjoy the night’s events.
Cranberry Fest has a special meaning for Wong, who has been to the event every year during her time at the university.
“It’s a time where you can interact with just about every other class. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors — they’re all together in this area,” she said.
Even commuting students attended the festival, one of whom was sophomore education major Kristen Pfau. She joined her friends “hoping it would be fun” and it turned out to be a great time. As a new student and a commuter, it was her first time at the school function.
“I’ll be coming again next year, hopefully,” Pfau said.
According to Barbati, Cranberry Fest provides something that everyone can bond over with “great food, great music, outdoor activities, hopefully great weather.”
“The thing that links us all as one is our school color as well as the elements of this program, so it’s a good chance to get out of your rooms, get out of your houses and just come together with the people that you share a lot in common with,” Barbati said.
According to Barbati, Cranberry Fest is a timeless piece of Rider’s history.
“This is one that’s truly decades in the making,” he said. “You could’ve been a student from the seventies and know what Cranberry Fest is, so I think it’s a classic outlet for people to come together, and I think that’s what makes it so special.”
Published in 9/26/18 edition