Celebrate! festival should return to original intent

Kristi Ross-Clausen, ’85

I was very disappointed in the offerings for Celebrate this year. I’d hoped for a day filled with activities for my son and I to enjoy while helping to support students currently attending my Alma Mater. Instead, I had the nagging feeling of attending a third-rate carnival where the vendors are there only to make a fast buck selling shoddy merchandise and snake oil before they take the bearded lady to the next hick town.Our first plan was to eat. Fond memories of Delt’s coooking brats and Phi Tau hamburgers stirred in my mind. The thought of Theta fruit k-bobs and SAI quiche triggered a Pavlovian response. At the information desk we were told one group was selling cookies (maybe), but the rest of the food venders weren’t Lawrentians as it’s “too much trouble” for them. Our second choice, the Union Grill, was closed. “Apples” from the horses dropped in close proximity to the food booths completed my nausea. We supported a restaurant on College Avenue.

We returned to tour the booths. Water filled balloons on a string, pony bead necklaces, and fingerpainted t-shirts were typical of my son’s elementary school art show. There were a few true craftsmen there, but I doubt too many wood-inlay tables and hand painted saw blades were sold. Why do we need to have folks driving 8-12 hours each way to sell junk? Where in the purpose of Lawrence University is “help trash peddlers from out of town” written?

Then there was the music. How can a school with a fantastic conservatory have so few students performing? Sambistas were wonderful, as usual. Big Band Reunion has a few alums and are always a treat. How about the rest of you? Even if a group can’t fill an hour long slot, an open-mic with advance signup would give many students and community members a chance to display their talents.

Please bring Celebrate back to the original intent: a way for the Lawrence and Appleton communities to welcome summer through mutual support and enjoyment of OUR talents, OUR groups and OUR endeavors.