May 2013

Weekend Recap: UMass Spring Fest ’13

UMass Students Party for a Cause
By: Julia Kacmarek

Ask any University of Massachusetts student what their favorite part of spring is and they will tell you the day parties that happen there. Each year, hundreds of students show up to events such as Hobart Hoedown to enjoy a day of drinking in the sun with their peers.

More times than not, these unregulated events end up with dozens of arrests and bad publicity for the university.

This past Saturday however, UMass seniors Jimmy Souza and Kristen Armstrong, worked together in an effort to create the same thing, but legally and for a cause. Spring Fest 2013, with over 700 people in attendance, resulted in 0 arrests and raised over $4,800 for the ALS Association.

The day began at the Olde Towne Tavern in Amherst, where students were able to take a shuttle to and from the event held at the Young Men’s Club of Hadley in order to prevent drinking and driving. Students were then carded and given both admission and 21+ wristbands.

Upon admission, attendees enjoyed a relaxing day of $2 Naragansett draft beer, Cliff’s Barbecue, and even live music from The Nick DeLeo Band.

Souza and Armstrong pulled the day together in a matter of a few weeks, and knew that since his last party, North Maple Fest, was such a success, making this a charitable event could be extremely beneficial to helping the cause.

“This time was better than North Maple Fest because it was very official. We had wristbands for tickets, a rented out event space, local business sponsorships, and a bus company to help transport guests. We made it so that it was an outdoor concert for charity that we could all enjoy a nice cold Narragansett beer together,” Armstrong said.

Both have been involved with the ALS Association for a while now and are dedicated to raising awareness for the disease.

“A former Little League coach of mine, and role model, Mr. Dedrick coordinated a charity golf tournament to benefit The ALS Association for years. The tournament honored his nephew who had ALS, and I always liked the work they did to try and cure such an awful disease. I also love the opportunity to make Mr. Dedrick proud,” Souza said.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrigs Disease, is a degenerative neurological disease that affects the brain and causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body. ALS diagnoses have become recently common and with no known cause or cure, and the diagnosis is deadly.

“I lost my father to the disease when I was seven years old. My family participates in the Boston Walk to Defeat ALS every year in honor of my father, Jeff Armstrong,” Armstrong said.

The hope for this event in upcoming years is to make it an annual end of the year celebration. The day fell right after Commencement Ball and created an incredibly festive last weekend for UMass Seniors.

Souza and Armstrong plan on recruiting students who will be at UMass next year to help them organize Spring Fest 2014.

For a day party that went off so well with so many positive responses, and even managed to give back to a reputable organization, Spring Fest 2013 was an undeniable success.

“We hope this event could be the beginning of improving the reputation of UMass Amherst. We all like to have our fun, but ultimately it would be best to be remembered for doing some good,” Souza said.