2020 is the year of homecoming without a football game. It’s no secret that things on Concordia College’s campus are different this year. Sports have been postponed, classes have gone online and common spaces are filled with students in masks. Along with these changes comes a lack of social gatherings. It’s in times like late September, when homecoming would normally be in full swing, that these new regulations can be more noticeable.
Traditions like the homecoming bonfire, dances and concerts are no longer deemed safe to attend. For some students, like sophomore Ta’mia Hedlin, the lack of in-person activities is disheartening.
“It feels like another thing that’s been taken away during this pandemic,” said Hedlin.
The HOCO Fall Fest was organized to alleviate those feelings. Graced by a silver lining, COVID restrictions encouraged events that were student focused. This is much different than years previous.
Both Family Weekend and Homecoming are traditionally centered around a demographic that sits largely outside of Concordia’s campus. Cobber alumni and parents of students are often the target audience for both events.
With COVID-19 in mind, off-campus members of the Cobber community weren’t able to participate in the majority of this year’s fall festivities, purely for safety reasons. This circumstance provided an opportunity to try something new. Thus, the 2020 HOCO Fall Fest was born.
The 2020 HOCO Fall Fest, a combination of Homecoming and Family Weekend, had in person and virtual events, all of which were catered toward students.
Erin Grabinger, a senior and Family Weekend chair, explained how her job has changed over the past few months. Right before the start of the semester, she was informed of additional safety guidelines that needed to be implemented into Family Weekend. Thankfully, collaboration was made more accessible when Family Weekend and Homecoming merged. As the 2020 Family Weekend chair, Grabinger worked closely with Avery Hovland, 2020 Homecoming chair. Both Grabinger and Hovland commented on the bright side of the situation.
“While planning homecoming festivities, the goal was to build community with students as safely as possible,” said Hovland.
Grabinger had similar remarks.
“It’s kind of cool to just come up with events that students would love, rather than things that maybe their parents would love.” said Grabinger.
One of those events was Cobb Hobb Nobb, which took place on Saturday. Located at different sites on campus, this event included tie dying, bracelet making, and letter writing.
Concordia junior Emma Allen helped run the Cobb Hobb Nobb tie dye activity. Allen is on the coronation committee, but volunteered to help. Similar to Hovland and Grabinger, Allen explained that the HOCO Fall Fest had one major priority: to provide students with some fun things to do. Whether that’s accomplished making bracelets, playing grocery bingo or completing scavenger hunts, having a good time is what’s important.
Despite the cloudy weather, the conversation was lively as students knelt on the grass to dye their shirts. This session of Cobb Hobb Nobb took place on Concordia’s soccer fields, right behind the Offutt School of Business. Sanitation was provided through alcohol wipes and gloves. Masks were worn to ensure the safety of students and organizers.
With the exception of the A-maize-ing Race on Oct. 3, the remainder of HOCO Fall Fest events were through virtual platforms. Facebook Live, Zoom and Facebook Watch Party were all utilized. Some virtual events included a Virtual Trivia Night, Coronation and a zoom with Cory Hepola. Hepola is a Concordia alum, currently working as a WCCO radio host.
In addition, there are three faith based Fall Fest events. Two chapel services, one led by Grabinger, the other by Hovland. On Sunday, Oct. 4 an All-Campus Worship service is taking place virtually, led by Rev. Dave Adams.
For more information on the HOCO Fall Fest schedule, search ‘HOCO Fall Fest’ on Concordia College’s homepage.