Last year, the longstanding tradition of a picnic on the final day of Orientation morphed into a community feast, including not only students and staff, but also members of the local agricultural community. The idea, in part, was to showcase the Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art exhibition at the Gund Gallery. The event was so popular that it returns this year, even though the exhibit has changed.
On Wednesday, Aug. 26, starting just after the first-year sing at 5 p.m., between 2,000 and 3,000 people will come together along the lawns west of Middle Path from the Middle Path Gates to the library to enjoy locally grown and produced sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, sausages and meats, pies and fudge.
The meal wraps up five days of Orientation that include Convocation, a meet-and-greet for first-years with President Sean Decatur, an academic department fair and a bonfire on the first-year quad.
“It’s a nice relaxing event at the end of Orientation,” said Lacey Filkins, assistant director of new student orientation and community programs. “It’s a great way for new students and returning students to get to know folks in the campuswide community as well as folks from Gambier and local farmers in a way maybe they wouldn’t.”
The community feast includes some small changes from last year. The new surface of Middle Path is still curing, so tables will be set parallel to the path instead of directly on it. Additional tables will be set on the lawns of Cromwell Cottage and the Gund Gallery. As with last year, the tables will be draped with white linens and adorned with vases of sunflowers, and straw bales will be used as seating. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets to create their own picnic areas on the lawns.
“We’re drawing again upon the symbolic value of Middle Path as a connection between campus and the community,” said Natalie Marsh, director of the Gund Gallery, one of the co-organizers and sponsors of the feast. The Office of the President, the Orientation Office of the Student Affairs Division, Philander Chase Corporation and the Kenyon Farm are other sponsors. AVI prepares and serves the food.
The community feast also marks the opening of two exhibitions at the museum. Guests can visit the Fischman Lobby of the Gund Gallery to enjoy a signature cocktail made from Utica’s Mill Street Distillery bourbon, apple cider and ginger ale and take in Jorinde Voigt’s Synchronicity and selections from the Gund Gallery collection.