Fall Fest canceled, replaced with comedy show at Smith Center

Program Board eliminated Fall Fest, marking the first time in at least 15 years that the organization will not host a fall concert.

Instead of the annual free concert in University Yard, Program Board will host a comedy show Sept. 1 at the Smith Center with tickets starting at $5 for students. The performing comedian will be announced this week, according to the group’s Facebook page.

The annual fall concert has drawn students to University Yard during welcome week for more than a decade. Past perfomers include , Sean Kingston, and The Mowgli’s and Nico & Vinz, who were the first dual headliners in the event’s history.

Reed Elman Waxham, chair of Program Board, said the shift allows the organization to devote more money to landing a high-profile act for the Spring Fling concert.

“We didn’t just want to keep doing Fall Fest because that is what we always had done,” he said. “This is our way of challenging convention and bringing what we think will be a new, exciting event to campus. If it goes well this year, I anticipate you’ll see a similar event in years to come.”

The change comes after Program Board issued a referendum during the Student Association election in March asking students whether they would prefer fewer events with higher-profile performers or more events with lower-profile performances. Students said they would rather see fewer events with higher-quality performers.

Elman Waxham said the group also considered consistently poor weather conditions when making their decision to host an indoor event. Program Board pushed back last year’s Fall Fest performance in hopes of avoiding inclement weather, but the event still had a dismal turnout.

Elman Waxham said a concert “no longer felt right” when the group opted to host an event in the Smith Center. With music out of the equation, Elman Waxham said a stand-up act would be a familiar fit for students, as comedians like Jon Stewart have performed on campus before.

“We talked a lot about how GW used to bring comedians for parents’ weekend, and we thought that was an element of programming GW was missing now,” he said. “A welcome week comedy show seemed like the perfect answer.”

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