Neighbor Fest nurtures student communities

Spokane, Cheney and EWU assembled to support student opportunities

By Erik Rötness, A&F Editor

EWU’s annual Neighbor Fest event brought in 200 groups from across the EWU, Cheney and Spokane communities to display the resources, clubs and opportunities available to students this year. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21.

Over 38 nonprofits and 32 businesses from Cheney and Spokane tabled the event alongside groups on campus. The Rockwood Clinic tent provided free flu shots for students. The campus police department and their canine companion talked with passerbys, handing out business cards and lip balm.

Erik Rotness
Sophomore Shawn Jones gets a flu shot. He did not seem excited about it.

Originally called Neighbor Days, the part exposition and part fair event has been going for over 20 years. There are 200 tables every year, providing 200 opportunities for groups to creatively display their information and inform students of their purpose.

Director of Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership at EWU, Stacey Reece, assures that she does not have a favorite booth.

“I enjoy seeing the creativity each group brings to their booths each year,” Reece said.

Nevertheless, throughout the event secret judges passed by, evaluating the booths for one of four awards. Hui O’ Hawaii won “Best Overall Booth.” The Native American Student Association won “Best Visual Display.” The Easterner was awarded “Most Interactive” and the Office of Sustainability at EWU took the “Most Eagle Spirited” award.

The event is a collaborative effort between EWU’s SAIL team and the Office of Sustainability.

The Office of Sustainability table displayed a man made out of 250 plastic water bottles to encourage students to recycle. This is the average number of water bottles sold at Tawanka every day according to EWU sophomore Katie Schueller.

Schueller, who works for the Office of Sustainability as a garden manager, made the plastic man that she calls Paul. Paul represents more than a sales statistic she says. It would take approximately 250 pieces of plastic per person in the world to equal the plastic in the great pacific garbage patch, Schueller said.

“That’s why I made him a man. To show it’s 250 pieces per person,” Schueller said. “And his name’s Paul because, well, it’s Plastic Paul.”

Planning for the event typically begins in April with table registration opening in May. “We have run out of booths around two weeks before the event,” Reece said. “I always tell partners to sign up early. It’s a first come, first served type of registration process.”

A $25 table reservation fee was required of all non-EWU groups. Reece says that on average the event costs $500 to run. •