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Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

Oh My! Time For OH Fest


Joanne Georges

On Saturday April 23, the colleges of the City of Oneonta will be hosting their annual Main Street carnival and Neahwa Park concert, OH Fest, featuring rapper Kid Ink as the headlining artist of OH FEST XI. This year’s OH Fest came together through the collaborative efforts of Hartwick College’s Hartwick Campus Activities Board (HCAB), SUNY Oneonta’s Student Association (SA), and the Oneonta community despite previous years’ challenges with student behavior and misconduct.

From 1 - 5 p.m. Main Street will be closed to cars and will essentially made to work as a block party. This year includes the same great traditional booths of the last 10 years as well as a few new extras. For the younger kids there will be carnival games, prizes, and inflatable bounce houses. While caricature artists, arts and crafts booths, merchandise tables, and food stalls will also be open for business, stores and restaurants along Main Street will remain open or set up stalls of their own. In addition, clubs, organizations, and activity boards from both Hartwick and SUNY are also invited to participate in their own activity or merchandise stalls.

“It is usually one of the first weekends [of spring] with nice weather and it is great to see everyone out and about. There is always a long line for the caricature artists, even during OH-Fest IX, it started to rain, so they moved inside. Despite the cold rain, the line still consisted of those determined to receive a free caricature,” said Hartwick junior Lena Rayson, who is serving as the OH Fest Vendors Coordinator as the HCAB Vice President of Assessment and Finance.

This year will also incorporate performers from the OH Factor competition. Much like previous years’ Battle of the Bands, OH Factor is a competition for musical acts from Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta to compete at a chance to open for the OH Fest concert headliner. However, removing the “bands” aspect from the title of the competition opened the OH Factor up to more solo artists.

“It was previously called Battle of the Bands, and because of SUNY’s size they often have representation, but Hartwick people this year have actually submitted [acts]. So there was an actual movement of finding votes and relaying that the talent was fair,” said Ambar Perez, who is serving as this year’s OH Factor Coordinator in her position as the HCAB Vice President of Special Events.

Two of the solo artists from Hartwick are Korree Reed ‘17 and Morgan Halperin ‘16, who both perform in the rap genre.

The chosen opening act will be announced on Monday from among a finalist pool of three solo acts, two acapella groups, and five bands. While there will be one music act opening for Kid Ink, the top six acts will get a chance to perform on a mini stage during the carnival.

“It’s still kind of a way for people to see them. SUCO has a whole [Music] Industry Department so it’s beneficial to [bands hoping to succeed in the music industry].” Perez said.

The anticipation for this year’s OH Fest is pretty high, mostly due to the ease with which HCAB and SA gained the approval of the Oneonta community.

The previous year, Oneonta residents, the Oneonta Common Council, and SUNY Oneonta officials considered suspending the OH Fest X concert during a City Hall meeting on September 16, 2014. Concerns were due to disorderly conduct, vandalism, public fighting, and littering as reported previous editions of Hilltops. Last year’s solution to soothe Oneonta residential concerns was to change the concert end time from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. HCAB and SA also encouraged students to return to Neahwa Park the next day and commit to the Clean Up Oneonta initiative.

In an interview with Hilltops Newspaper in the fall of 2014, the administrative contact for OH Fest, HCAB advisor and Director of Residential Life and Housing, Zachary Brown, said most of the concern came from, “the house parties during the day in center city, the level of inebriation of concert goers, and the behavior of the concert goers as they leave the park and head back to campus through the downtown and center city.”

“We are hoping to encourage students to take accountability for their behaviors and be responsible in their decision making on the day of OH Fest, so that this event can continue to be a great community event,” Brown said in regards to OH Fest X.

The solution provided better student behavior and a satisfied Oneonta community. Now, this satisfaction has led to a smoother permit request for the use of Main Street and Neahwa Park, and interactions with city officials.

OH Fest Production Coordinator, HCAB President, and Hartwick senior, Lauren O’Brien, said this year hasn’t drawn any red flags or warnings with the residential community.

“We have a town meeting after everything is set in stone. We meet with the police, with the fire department, the city engineer, and facilities people of the town and both schools to have meetings for the jargon of the day, but we don’t have to meet with townspeople who aren’t directly involved,” O’Brien said. Which is a change from the city hall meeting in 2014.

O’Brien still wanted to encourage student to keep up the good behavior.

“[We] always want to do a PSA to act intelligent[ly] and to respect the town that we live [in]. Obviously enjoy it, but don’t get reckless, this is a great community event and we want to continue this in the future,” O’Brien said.