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Changes to Mega Fair left some organizations out to dry, others were right as rain

After two cancellations due to inclement weather, Miami University Student Activities revised Mega Fair to take place over three days last week inside Armstrong Student Center. Each day was dedicated to different club categories, such as career and professional development, fine arts/performance and special interest.

Mega Fair, an annual outdoor showcase of Miami's 500-plus activities and organizations, was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018 from 6 to 9 p.m. on Slant Walk. Due to the threat of severe weather on that date, Miami announced that Mega Fair would be postponed to Wednesday, Sept. 5 at the same time.

However, on Sept. 5, rain delayed Mega Fair until 6:30 p.m. The rain left some students huddling under tables around Slant Walk for shelter, trying to keep themselves and their display materials dry during the storm.

"People were just really demoralized at that point," said junior Sarah Frick, president of Miami University Culinary Association (MUCA). "Then the people running Mega Fair come out and say, 'Mega Fair isn't cancelled, but you all have to vacate the premises due to lightning.'"

Soon after, Mega Fair was officially cancelled.

The change in plans left organizations discouraged about their displays at the substitute event.

Frick had baked 80 cookies to pass out to prospective members at Mega Fair's Sept. 5 date. She ended up giving them away and eating them because she wasn't sure what the new plans were and didn't have time to make a new batch before the indoor Mega Fair.

Members of the Miami Association of Filmmakers and Independent Artists (MAFIA) were exhausted after the two prior cancellations and settled for a simpler display at indoor Mega Fair.

"What we had at our Mini Mega Fair was just a couple of our t-shirts, laptop stickers that we designed and then a signup sheet," said junior Malena McClory, equipment manager for MAFIA. "[At Mega Fair], we usually bring cameras and equipment and tripods to show off, we have a banner that hangs off our table, but we didn't want to put the effort in of dragging those out again."

Because of indoor Mega Fair's midday time slot of 12 to 4 p.m., students had to work around their class schedules, whether they were attending the fair or working a table.

There were some points during the day that no one from MAFIA could stand at the table, leaving the sign-up sheet by itself, said McClory.

Featuring different types of organizations on different days allowed students to be more selective with which tables they visited. MAFIA President senior Katie Wickman said this hurt MAFIA's exposure.

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"At Mega Fair last year, there were a lot more people that would come up to our table because...everybody went up to every table no matter what they were interested in," Wickman said. "Last year we would get a bunch of people who were at least just a little bit interested, and so we had a much bigger range of people who came to our info meeting and definitely a lot more people."

However, Frick saw many first-years and newcomers taking initiative after Mega Fair got cancelled.

"Between the cancellation of Mega Fair and Mini Mega Fair, [MUCA] had about 30 freshmen reach out either through the Hub or emailing us saying they want to get involved and that they're sad that Mega Fair got cancelled, what can I do? So I was really impressed by that."

At their indoor Mega Fair table, 77 people signed up for MUCA, which is more than the 60 names Frick collected last year during the regular Mega Fair.

Though some organizations were able to meet their recruitment goals, Frick said, these substitute Mega Fairs didn't have the completely same effect as the intended, larger-scale event.

"I think Mega Fair in itself is quite the experience with the stage and performers," Frick said. "Everyone gathering together has this energy and excitement that carries through to people wanting to join clubs and getting involved at Miami, and I think Mini Mega Fair was lacking that energy."