WelcomFest events help students to feel at home

Kallie Miller

New and returning students can learn more about what Ames and Iowa State have to offer at WelcomeFest 2000. About 90 local businesses, campus organizations and student services will be on hand from 5:30-9 p.m. today at the Lied Recreation Center. Not only can students receive free food and entertainment, but they may also receive free gifts and register to win prizes at the booths. “It’s all about making students feel at home,” said Teresa Branch, assistant vice president of Student Affairs. WelcomeFest, along with New Student Days and the Student Affairs Welcome tent, are all university-sponsored events aimed to ensure that students are made aware of what is available in the community and on campus. “WelcomeFest gives exposure to services and programs that students may not otherwise find out about, as well as letting them get acquainted with key people and other students,” Branch said. Campus and community group members are hoping to increase awareness and involvement by promoting their individual group purposes to the students. WelcomeFest especially focuses on the community and commercial aspect of Ames. Many of the participants in this year’s festival are local businesses whose products and services will be of special interest to students. Vendors will be displaying everything from T-shirts to televisions, computers to cosmetics, printing services to pizza delivery. Local restaurants will offer free samples, and many booths will be holding giveaways and drawings. Along with free gifts and food, WelcomeFest also will be providing entertainment for guests, including juggling unicyclist Ken Schultz, the “Flying Fool.” Caricature artist David Lee will be on hand for any students who want an unusual self-portrait drawn. Last year’s WelcomeFest drew approximately 6,500 students, up 500 from the previous year. WelcomeFest Coordinator Laura Bestler-Wilcox said that she expects this year’s attendance to be up from the last two years. “WelcomeFest is basically the Ames community welcoming the students and letting them know that we are glad to have them,” she said.