The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Fall Fair reunites Eastern, Charleston community

Rob Le Cates
Community members Amara Lewis, 5, attempts to catch up to her brother Marcus Lewis, 3, at Eastern’s Welcome Weekend Fall Fair Saturday evening in the empty lot next to Tarble Arts Center. This was the first day the family visited the fair, but said from what they’ve seen, it has been a great time so far.

Nerves crept over Kristal Muñoz, a senior criminology/criminal justice major, as the night progressed at the Welcome Weekend Fall Fair. 

Charleston held the Coles County Fair several weeks before Eastern’s fair, so going into this she was concerned about turnout for the school’s fair. 

In addition to providing a fun event for new and returning students, another goal is to bring the Charleston and Eastern communities together. Muñoz said she was super nervous that people wouldn’t be receptive to the efforts.

Her anxiety spiked after a community member asked if she had any involvement with planning the fair.

She prepared herself to be chewed out, but she was pleasantly surprised when the woman said she brought her four grandchildren and wanted to thank the organizers for putting on the fair. The grandmother went on to say she hasn’t seen this side of Charleston in a long time and appreciated the students’ friendliness toward her grandchildren and other community members. 

“That was really heartwarming to hear. I almost shed a tear,” Muñoz said. “It’s nice to know, in theory, people are enjoying [the fair], but to have someone who’s actually been in town for a while say it to your face, it just touches your heart.”

University Board started planning the fair in April, with a desire for a larger-scale event than in years past. Muñoz worked behind the scenes during the summer, as the summer programmer on bringing the fair to life and worked the fair all three nights.

Last year’s event was rained out and COVID restricted several years of events prior to the rain, and, the organization had extra funds to invest in larger-scale rides.

Crowded lines and screams could be heard heard from Eastern Illinois University’s Welcome Weekend Fall Fair Thursday to Saturday. Several group organizers said there has been at least a constant 150 people at the fair at all times. (Rob Le Cates)

Quakin’ in the Quad has been a tradition for the past several years. The gathering would house several inflatable attractions like a bull ride, jousting, obstacle courses and hatchet throwing in the South Quad.

What was once inflatable is now metal and fast-moving.

Some of the rides included two Ferris wheels, one in which its cab spun, a tilt-a-whirl, two swing-like rides, and several rides catered toward younger children. Carnival game classics like balloon darts, ring toss, and ball in the basket were available to be played at a price of around $10. 

Most of the rides had an extensive line with students exiting the ride only to jump right back in to ride again.

Director of the Office of Student Life Ceci Brinker said the last fair-like event held dated back to 2016 and repetition is one of the reasons why they brought back the miniature carnival. 

“Some of the same repetitive stuff for upperclassmen. They’ve seen every inflatable you can imagine by the time they become seniors,” Brinker said. 

Originally, students would be allowed free entry with community members being required to pay for each ride or purchase unlimited ride wristbands for $20, but Brinker said the group received some pushback on the choice and decided to lift the paywall. 

The group decided wristbands and student IDs for each ride would be too confusing and complicated, so Brinker said the group simplified things so it would have a laid-back atmosphere.

“We just thought starting the school year [with the fair] would be a great way to do that, as well as improve the Charleston community,” Brinker said. They seem to have responded and enjoyed it.”

Several students said they felt excited to see an extravagant event before classes start.

Toni Abatangelo, a junior elementary education major, and Megan Savanglio, a senior career technical education major, both said they hope Eastern will regularly hold fairs for years to come.

Toni Abatangelo, a junior elementary education major, and Megan Savanglio, a senior career technical education major, ride a swing ride Saturday evening at Eastern’s Welcome Weekend Fall Fair at the empty lot outside Tarble Arts Center. Both said they hope Eastern will regularly hold fairs for years to come. (Rob Le Cates)

For international student Efosa Ojomo, a graduate student studying computer technology, the experience was relieving.

“It made me feel comfortable because I could understand the culture of the school,” Ojomo said. “What I’ve seen is heartwarming and encouraging for the young students to pursue higher education.”

Community member Brad Sims said he would definitely return each year if Eastern’s events were this lively. 

“While my kids are going on rides having fun, we just really appreciate the chances to come out here,” Sims said. “They’re loving it, having a blast. We gotta come out.”

For sophomore head administration student Tattiana Stringer, the carnival was a completely new experience ultimately leading her to come back a second night.

The fair proved to be a perfect before-school get-together for Stringer and her friends along with the group riding all the rides and eating free popcorn and cotton candy.

“[The positive feedback] what’s holding me together these days,” Muñoz said. “When I see [attendants] come up and hear in passing be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I gotta come back tomorrow,’ [it] makes me happy.”

Cam’ron Hardy and Payton Liggins contributed to this article.

Rob Le Cates can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief
Rob Le Cates is a junior journalism major. He previously served as summer editor-in-chief, photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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