Cranberry fest: reflecting on then and now

By Nicole Cortese

At every Cranberry Fest you’re sure to find “food, fun, friends and free T-shirts,” according to Assistant Director of Campus Life, Nick Barbati.

This year’s campus fall tradition, held on Thursday, Sept.13, marked Cranberry Fest’s 33rd anniversary.

Andrew J. Rider look-alike was in attendance at Cranberry Fest once again this year. He provided a brief history of Rider and Cranberry Fest to an audience of students. Free T-shirts were also a returning tradition.

What made this year’s Cranberry Fest special was the ribbon cutting ceremony for Daly’s, signaling its grand reopening and New Residence Hall being properly dedicated as the Hank and Bonnie Moore Hall.

Also included in the mix was the Andrew J. Rider look-alike who shared the history of Cranberry Fest and a brief overview of the University’s past. Cover band, Lost in Paris, came back to perform at Cranberry Fest for the second year in a row.

“The students really seem to enjoy the bands that we book to play at Cranberry Fest,” Barbati said.

Every year, there is a different theme at Cranberry Fest and over time, the festival has evolved into an anticipated campus tradition.

“I really like how we get to interact with fellow students,”senior Isa Wisse said. “It’s great being outdoors on this beautiful day and getting our free Rider swag.”

Flashback to the year 1979. The Iranian government was overthrown, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister of England and Bruce Springsteen, The Who and the Bee Gees ruled the airwaves.

Rider’s well-known “pasta guy” Raul Cortes serves a spread of cranberry-themed sandwiches and salad to students and faculty members on Thursday, Sept. 13. Cranberry fest originated in 1979 by the administration as a way to build unity on campus.

At Rider, the administration found there was a severe lack of campus unity, according to an article titled “Cranberries return in second festival” from the May 2, 1980 issue of The Rider News. The article reported that in just two days in the beginning of May the year prior, the administration was able to assemble Cranberry Fest in an effort to bring students together. Students today can still relate to the original purpose of unity.

“I love the school spirit atmosphere at Cranberry Fest,” junior Vicki Marquardt said.
According to information from the Riderana, the University archives, in 1980 Karen Flischel, the assistant dean of students at the time, explained her thoughts about the festival.

“There’s not really a whole lot of structure to this thing,” Flischel said. “Too much planning would tend to thwart the spontaneity you need.”

The early festivals included food, games, balloons, music and, of course, cranberries supplied by the then-President’s wife, Betta Elliott. In 1980, President Frank N. Elliott even participated in a volleyball match among students.

This year’s Cranberry Fest included a bungee cord race as well as a performance from cover band Lost in Paris. Past Cranberry Fests included food, games, music and volleyball matches with then-President Frank N. Elliott.

The festival today holds the same concepts, activities and sense of school pride.

“I can’t wait to see what Cranberry Fest holds for my senior year next year,” Marquardt said. “If it’s anything like this year, it should be lots of fun.”

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