Spring Fling attracts crowd of 28,000

By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Despite record-breaking attendance the first two days, poor weather and the timing of Easter were likely the reasons Spring Fling's total attendance dropped for the fourth year in a row.

But clubs raked in more money than last year.

Spring Fling attendance peaked in 2000 with about 41,000 people and has dropped every year since.

This year, 28,000 people attended the four-day event; 6,500 of those who visited the carnival were UA students.

Last year, about 30,000 people visited Spring Fling, a carnival put on annually to raise money for clubs and organizations.

Thursday and Friday each had more than double the amount of people attend the event than during those same days last year, said Greg Venker, assistant business director for Spring Fling.

Venker said Saturday's rainy and windy weather, and Easter Sunday resulted in lower-than-expected attendance over the weekend.

"Aside from Saturday being such a poor weather day, I think we would have shattered last year's attendance," he said. "Nobody came out."

Even with the drop in attendance, Spring Fling brought in a revenue of $200,000, with a net profit of $67,000 for campus clubs and organizations, up from $50,000 last year.

Because the 30th annual Spring Fling fell on Easter weekend this year, organizers aimed for a lower attendance of 25,000.

Lindsay Urbank, Spring Fling executive director, said although the net profit was approximately the same as last yearĪs, only 45 campus groups will share the earnings, bringing in more money for each club.

Last year, 70 student clubs and organizations participated in the event, which had a net profit of $50,000.

Tricia Domschke, Spring Fling public relations director, blamed the low club turnout on Easter weekend.

Regardless, Angela Pauley, club relations director for the event, said clubs had a "successful year" and students had a good time while fund raising.

"The students who volunteered from the clubs put countless hours of hard work into their booths," she said. "Their enthusiasm definitely enhanced the overall atmosphere of the event."

Colette Schabram, Spring Fling coordinator for Phi Alpha Delta, said the pre-law fraternity ran the hot dog stand.

Schabram said the Spring Fling crowd was smaller than she anticipated.

But Rob Wild, president of Arizona Student Recycling Association, said the turnout is what he expected and that he is happy with the success of the club's Spring Fling booth.

Rather than having a conventional booth and selling items, the ASRA booth offered students raffle tickets for recycling products.

"With that method, we were able to put a big dent in the amount of stuff that got recycled," he said.

Urbank said she was especially pleased with the nine other Spring Fling directors' dedication. Unlike previous years, Urbank said there wasn't a weak link in the group.

"Everyone was so hard core about making it perfect," she said. "I had so many people come up to me and say, ĪThis is one of the best Spring Flings I have ever been to.'"

Domschke said she noticed a lot of families and high school students at the event because many UA students were home for the Easter weekend.

But Domschke said she was happy with the turnout and that the marketing was "a lot better than in the past."

Although touted as the largest student-run carnival in the nation, Spring Fling turnout has failed to meet organizers' expectations for the past few years. In 2002, the carnival had a total attendance of 30,397, which was 15,000 less than what coordinators hoped for. Last year, Spring Fling directors expected 40,000 people but only 30,000 attended.

"The highlight was being at the event and seeing all of our hard work happen," Domschke said.

Urbank said Sunday was the most fun for her, when she dressed up as the Easter Bunny to surprise the children.

"It was so funny to see the kids run up and grab her legs and hold on," Urbank said.

Urbank said the biggest setback was the cloudy weather Saturday, which kept potential attendees inside.

"It was so ominous, but it never really rained," said Urbank. "We were like, ĪGo away, you ominous clouds,'" she said.

Though Urbank said students faced minor problems during the carnival, she noticed that they "resolved themselves."