In with the old and in with the new.
Skimmer Fest, a combination of Skimmer and Fall Fest, will represent the first collaboration between the Social Planning and Events Committee and the Sophomore, Junior and Senior Class Boards. The event will be held this Saturday afternoon on College Green.
After budget considerations, the Undergraduate Assembly voted last spring to merge Skimmer — an event previously organized by the Class Boards — and Fall Fest, an annual SPEC event. Just under $40,000 has been allocated to this school-wide event, according to the UA’s website.
Skimmer Fest will combine Skimmer’s emphasis on athletics and school spirit with Fall Fest’s display of Penn’s diverse student organizations. Also like Fall Fest, this celebration is open to the entire student body. Immediately preceding the first home football game of the year, Skimmer Fest will pump up students with live music, free food and carnival games.
“We want to bring spirit at Penn to a level that it’s never reached before,” Sophomore Class Board President and College sophomore Ariel Koren said. “This is going to be an amazing event for the whole Penn community.”
Skimmer began in 1949 in an effort to raise student interest in the men’s crew team. Initially named Callow Day after crew coach Rusty Callow, the event was renamed in 1951 for Callow’s signature straw “skimmer” hat, according to the University Archives. Skimmer was celebrated at the annual regatta on the Schuylkill River during the same spring weekend as Hey Day.
After being replaced by Spring Fling in 1973, Skimmer was revived last fall by the Sophomore and Junior Class Boards.
Senior Class Board President and College and Wharton senior Jonathon Youshaei said he was “blown away by the results” of last year’s Skimmer, and hopes that Skimmer Fest will continue to get students excited about Penn’s athletic scene.
Fall Fest, a more recent tradition, has been hosted by SPEC for the past three years. In addition to performances by musical acts Holy Fuck and Hoodie Allen, this all-day event has consisted of free games and contests for all students. Fall Fest has also showcased many student groups at Penn.
“Fall Fest [was] more about welcoming students back to campus,” SPEC President and College senior Josh Oppenheimer said. “Skimmer Fest is supposed to increase spirit and get people excited about being at Penn, not necessarily for the academics but for the community.”
This year’s Skimmer Fest will feature performances by Free Energy, Kenn Kweder, the Mask and Wig Band and Off the Beat. Other attractions will include an inflatable human foosball game, rat race and gyrotron, as well as free t-shirts and megaphones. Food will be provided by local vendors such as Rita’s Water Ice and Philadelphia Pretzel Factory.
The student leaders who organized this event hope it will provide Penn students some significant memories that will tie them to past and future generations of Penn alumni.
“It’s not only that we’re building memories with people in our class,” Youshaei said. “We want to form a connection with thousands of people who have already graduated.”
“It’s our newest old tradition,” Junior Class Board President and Wharton junior Spencer Penn said.
Representatives from SPEC and the class boards said they enjoyed working together and see other projects in their future. Both groups stressed that planning was an entirely equal collaboration, with subcommittees requiring at least one member from each group.
“I think the class boards are very good on the big ideas, and SPEC is very good at getting things done,” Oppenheimer said. He added that representatives from both organizations learned from each other’s insights and past experiences in planning events.
“There was an unbelievable synergy between the class boards and SPEC,” Spencer Penn said. “We’re two different groups with different structures, but we have a unified vision, and that will make Skimmer Fest a huge success.”