On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, St. Mary’s College celebrated its fifth annual Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend. In its latest iteration, Hawktoberfest was concurrent with Parent’s Weekend, which ran Oct. 1-2, and included The Great Bamboo Boat Race, athletic events, live music, lectures, tours, and a variety of other events.
Hawktoberfest kicked off with St. Mary’s third Annual Hawktoberfest Golf Tournament at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s Cedar Point Golf Course. Other Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend events included cruises along the St. Mary’s River, tours of Historic St. Mary’s City, tours of the Saint John’s Site, a guided tree and plant walk, and two showings of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” at Cole Cinema. At a hospitality tent by the athletic field, beer was available to parents, alumni, and students of age while the Three-Man River Band performed on Saturday.
Dave Sushinsky, Director of Alumni Relations, said, “My goal is to find ways to keep alumni connected . . . the overreaching goal [of Hawktoberfest is] to help alumni who graduated last year and alumni who graduated 50 years ago to stay connected to St. Mary’s.” According to Sushinsky, the College “never had a Homecoming because [the College doesn’t] have a football team.” The newer Hawktoberfest format is an effort to create a Homecoming style event centered on athletics “that would appeal to younger alumni.”
Sushinsky said that on Saturday Oct. 1,“more Varsity sports [events were] going on than any day in College history.” Said events included Field Hockey vs. Stevenson University, Volleyball vs. Hood College, Women’s Soccer vs. Frostburg State University, Men’s Soccer vs. Stevenson, Volleyball vs. Gettysburg University, and Alumni Baseball and Lacrosse games on Saturday. Sunday’s concluding athletic events were Field Hockey vs. Bridgewater State University and Men’s and Women’s Alumni Tennis.
The 13th annual John R. Petruccelli Memorial Run/Walk/Bike Race was also held on Saturday morning. According to Sushinsky: “proceeds benefit SafeRide; we had 150 people participate, a record number.”
One of the main events was the second annual Great Bamboo Boat Race; competitors were required to build a boat out of bamboo, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and twine using a ruler, pencil, scissors, and permanent markers. After two initial heats, seven teams were eliminated and the final six faced off. Ultimately, Lost Johnson led by Kenneth Doutt out-rowed six teams to win the first place prize.
A successful Hawktoberfest requires the involvement of many departments. Athletics, Student Activities, Alumni Relations, Events and Conferences, and Public Safety all played an integral role in making this year’s Hawktoberfest and Parent’s Weekend a success. According to Sushinsky, “This is the third time we have done [Hawktoberfest] like this. It [has] picked up a lot of steam.”
Kelly Schroeder, Assistant Dean of Students, said, “The Hawktoberfest event brings a significant number of St. Mary’s alumni to campus and gives the current senior class another opportunity to connect with our alumni during the afternoon events under the Hawktoberfest tent. I would love to see even more members of the senior class attend this event next year.” Sushinsky echoed Schroeder’s sentiment, remarking, “One thing I’d like to see more of is seniors working in the hospitality tent mingling with each other and younger alumni; that way, they might see, ‘Hey, life doesn’t end after College, I can still be a part of St. Mary’s after I graduate.’ … I think they’d also find it reassuring to see these young Alumni doing well because life after College can seem scary.”
Other events during the weekend included, on Saturday, a tour of St. John’s Site, a guided tour of Historic St. Mary’s and its many plants and trees, an art exhibition in the Boyden Gallery in Montgomery Hall, and a Student Government Association (SGA) movie night. On Sunday, Family Weekend concluded with “Toy Story 3,” also hosted by the SGA, following the final Hawktoberfest sporting event of the day against Bridgewater Field Hockey.
While not all campus visitors during the weekend were aware of the planned events beforehand, many seemed to still enjoy themselves. “[My sister] and I both had no idea that it was family weekend when we planned my visit,” said Rosie Hammack, younger sister to senior Ellie Hammack. “Being around and living with students here is definitely a blast. There’s just a very relaxed, friendly vibe at this school.”