Co-chairs, officials say Veishea had large turnout


Logan Gaedke

A member of Fire Pixie touches her head to the floor while twirling fire around herself during their performance Saturday, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Josh Larson —

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the deserted West Student Office Space in the Memorial Union begins to be filled with people in black shirts.

“They’re coming down the stairs,” one black-shirted man can be heard saying from an unseen part of the room.

As Elyse Harper and Mark Pierce walk into the Veishea office after finishing with closing ceremonies, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary until a horde of operations committee members tackle Pierce to the ground. Screaming with laughter, Harper unsuccessfully tries to escape from the remaining committee members as she runs through the office space.

Moments later, Pierce and Harper can be seen standing in the Four Seasons fountain in front of the Memorial Union, faces shining toward the crowd of people taking pictures and poking fun at what had just happened. Soaked up to their thighs in water, the two students had been thrown into the fountain as part of a tradition marking the end of Veishea week. As the crowd assembles downstairs once again in the office space, Harper jokingly asks, “So does this mean Veishea is over?” The smile breaking through her exhausted complexion shows that she already knows the answer: Veishea 2009 has come to a close.

Harper, Veishea general co-chairwoman and senior in psychology, and Pierce, Veishea general co-chairman and junior in agricultural business, both agree their expectations were met in Veishea 2009.

George Micalone, Veishea adviser and director of the student activities, said the concert ticket sales exceeded expectations, selling 9,470 by the end of Saturday. An estimated 7,400 tickets were actually traded in for wristbands, and the peak in attendance was estimated at about 5,000 people.

An estimated 1,000 tickets were sold on-site outside the entrance of the Molecular Biology venue. Micalone said he even sold to 40 people in a 10-minute period near the end of the last concert Saturday.

“We weren’t trying to be shady,” Micalone said. “They wouldn’t let us not sell them a ticket.”

Free entertainment on campus was also well attended. Comedian Bill Burr performed to a packed CY Stephens Auditorium on Saturday night, and at least 2,000 students attended the events in the Great Hall, which served as a precautionary rain location for the events planned for Central Campus. The Maintenance Shop was filled with 220 students for Veishea Says I’m Funny, and the newly-implemented webcast of the event was shown to another 220 students upstairs as well as more than 200 online viewers.

Pierce said although the Maintenance Shop venue is small, it is important to use that venue rather than a larger venue like the Great Hall.

“The venue of that size would be intimidating for any amateur comedian,” Pierce said.

Gail Ferlazzo, Veishea adviser and associate director of the Memorial Union, said nearly 1,500 students attended the pancake feed both Friday and Saturday nights. Students waited in line on Central Campus for pancakes served in an all-you-can-eat fashion for $3.

“Students have been very appreciative, very polite,” said Penni McKinley, interim director of the Thielen Student Health Center, who worked at the pancake feed Saturday night as a volunteer for the Student Affairs division.

Pierce said the overall number of problems was small, and all incidents throughout the week were dealt with.

“It speaks a lot about our students,” Pierce said.

Ferlazzo said there are always problems with unofficial Veishea activities that they can’t control.

Pierce and Harper will play a role in choosing the general co-chairpersons for Veishea 2010, who will be chosen by Friday.