An Afternoon at Boston’s CollegeFest

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This weekend, I was hunting for a way to spend Saturday afternoon and heard from a friend that something called “CollegeFest” was happening in Fenway Park. Since I like fests and I am in college, I thought it would be a good fit for me. All I was looking for from the event was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I only later decided to cover it for this blog!

The Eventbrite page included this description:

CollegeFest at Fenway is the biggest back to school party for college students in Boston. Now in it’s [sic] 31st year, it’s bigger and better than ever, with great prizes and giveaways, including L.L.Bean and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, and tickets to games at Fenway.

The page went on to mention live music and Fenway photo opportunities.

Considering it was a free event catering to Boston’s more than substantial college population, I was concerned that the line to get in would be hours long, especially since there was free stuff. I tried to go to an event earlier this month at the Lawn on D, a popular but less central event space in Boston, and founds myself, along with thousands of people, unable to get in. 

CollegeFest lasted from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. I went around 4:45, and found that, at least at that point, access was easy.

The people at Yawkey Way and the surrounding area certainly didn’t resemble the hopping mayhem that occurs during a Red Sox game. 

There was a short security check, but other than that visitors could just walk into the park.

Although live music was listed on the Eventbrite page, whatever had been happening in that regards had wrapped up by 4:45 p.m. The event didn’t have the atmosphere of a concert or live music event in any way. Instead, it was focused almost solely around the brands that were in attendance and their giveaways. Booths for different companies lined the inside of the park where guests normally buy french fries and franks. Even though there was over an hour left in the event, I noticed that GrubHub already had an empty booth.

Many of the still-operating booths were offering small items like drink koozies and stickers, and several had carnival-style wheels you could spin for additional prizes. 

Companies like DavidsTea, Vice Cream and Monster offered free sample of their edible or drinkable products.

In terms of the atmosphere, things were calm. There were students around, but most of the booths had very little in terms of lines.

Though the giveaways were by far the main event at that hour in the day, there were a few booths that had entertainment in addition to products.

There were costumed actors moving around, silently and in-character, like a creepy version of Disney World.

This zombie character came up and stared into my soul more than once.

L.L. Bean was allowing visitors to throw Bean Boots like they would a bean bag in a bean bag toss, and there was some on-sight boxing.

Later into the event I saw this impressive character, who towered over the visitors. 

Most of the event was indoors, but visitors could head outside to a small section of the stadium, where they could view both the park and a few cherished Red Sox items.

Signs of the event decelerating had already started at 4:45 p.m. with the GrubHub booth, but by 5:30 p.m. I could see employees from more brands starting to follow their lead.

Understandably, there appeared to be a lot of cleaning necessary after the seven-hour event.

Even with the signs of decline, I did pass several people headed to the event on my way out around 5:40.

I found covering this event on Twitter useful because it made it easy to share how the afternoon unfolded in real-time. Through Twitter, you can, with minimal strife, take audiences on a journey with you. I also appreciated how easy it is to incorporate video and photos into my storytelling. The limitations were the limitations that always exist on Twitter. That is, the platform doesn’t cater itself to terribly in-depth coverage. It led to a lot of little observations and not much sophisticated analysis. Additionally, it made it hard to curate the story, because I’d post one photo of a character or item and then take a better but redundant one.

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