The inaugural Hollybash was held last Friday, braving the rain and dreary weather.

Organized by the Office of Student Activities (OSA) and held on the Hollybush Green, the event had a variety of different activities for students to enjoy, including caricatures, body tie-dye, henna, a zip line and a ferris wheel.

“It’s so much fun,” said Mary Kate Hardiman, a sophomore elementary education major. “I like the zip line and the ferris wheel and the games. The atmosphere is very fun and free.”

The event was attended by over 2,300 students, faculty and staff, including university President Ali Houshmand who joined in on the fun by tie-dying his arms at the Black Light Visuals station.

Amongst the activities, there was a small stage where multiple performances took place, such as extreme juggler Mad Chad, Rowan student duo “The West Brothers” and the Rowan dance group “Art of Madness.”

“It’s been pretty good,” said freshman mechanical engineering major Chris Swanson about the event. “The juggler in the beginning, Mad Chad, we witnessed him juggling Philly cheesesteak fries, a shot put [ball] and an egg, so that was quite amusing. He lasted about seven seconds.”

Food trucks were available to those in attendance and students were given a $10 food voucher upon presentation of their Rowan ID.

“I love it,” said Carlos De Leon, a junior English education major, about the event. “I love the food, I love the environment, and I love that it’s on the campus green so there’s a lot of space.”

Although attendees enjoyed events and activities throughout the day, guests had one resounding complaint: the weather. “I really like the energy and I really like the music,” said Olivia Grasso, a freshman history and modern languages and linguistics major. “They have a lot of fun activities, but it’s a little chilly for me to get into it, but that’s not anyone’s fault. They have a good variety of food and activities, so it’s a good time.”

The event closed off with a concert, which was previously the main aspect of Profstock, a music festival held at Rowan in years past. This event was carried over and molded into Hollybash.

“Profstock was fun, but I didn’t always necessarily like the bands they chose,” said Samantha Barrett, a senior journalism and radio, television and film major. “I thought it was really disjointed because they picked a band from every genre, which is great because you get more people in but it’s also odd for the people who are at the concert because you go from hip-hop to alternative to hip-hop again, which is a little weird. I think this year, it’s smart that [the bands] are all kind of similar.” The concert featured a series of performances from Battle of the Bands winner Steve Tedman, cover band Go Go Gadjet and platinum-selling recording artists, American Authors.

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Tedman’s one-man band “Overpopulated” featured an accordion as the main instrument in addition to a small trumpet and drums on his feet. He played a set that included covers of songs as well as original works about subjects such as love, staying positive and even playing the accordion.

“My original songs are usually drawn from the most random occurrences in my life,” Tedman said. “I can’t seem to write about other people, because the emotions just aren’t personal. That being said, I am really not emotional. I try to incorporate humor into everything, because I’m really a melancholy person, and everybody seems to write sad songs.”

After Tedman’s set, cover band Go Go Gadjet took the stage, inviting people to get out of their seats and dance.

“It was a blast,” said sophomore computer science major Sean Fitzpatrick. “We’ve been here since 5 p.m. At first we were just sitting down in the chairs but when they started to get pumped up we came over here [in front of the stage] and it was great.”

Fitzpatrick among many other students were ecstatic to see Go Go Gadjet pump out a set that included a medley of current pop hits, including Twenty-One Pilots’ “Stressed Out,” Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” among many other tunes.

“Being a cover band, it’s hard to find originality in doing other people’s music,” said Rayvon Reed, one of Go Go Gadjet’s vocalists. “One my favorite things is finding that originality – doing our own remixes and doing a huge spin on what’s already out there.”

However, that isn’t the only challenge that Go Go Gadjet had to face when entertaining the masses.

“It’s 2016 and people can’t pay attention for very long,” said Jeff Tomrell, Go Go Gadjet’s lead vocalist. “We put a lot of energy and effort into this [our shows] that way nobody has any time to get bored. Our job is to make people smile, whether it’s dancing or singing there’s always a way to make it work. Whether it’s ten or 10,000 people it’s about relating to the people that are there.”

The night concluded with a jam-packed set from American Authors, who opened their performance with their 2015 hit “Go Big or Go Home.” Throughout their set they played songs off of their upcoming album “What We Live For,” as well as an acoustic cover of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” before closing out their show with their 2014 hit “Best Day of My Life.”

“It’s always cool to play these outdoor festivals, college campuses are always a great time,” said American Authors’ lead singer Zac Barnett. “Meeting new people is fun, sharing that energy with the crowd, being able to perform your art and something that means so much to you and to be able to get that response and have that connection with people is a really cool thing.”

For a first-time event, Hollybash was a huge success, said Carly Samuels, a senior business management and entrepreneurship major and coordinator of the event.
“This event could not have been possible without all of the help from our volunteers,” Samuels said. “This event had a ton of moving parts and it would not have gone as seamlessly as it did if it were not for all of the help we had. The only reason this event ran as well as it did was because of all of the help we had. So a big thank you to everyone who had a part in this!”

– Featured image: All signs point to Hollybash! This event featured a variety of food trucks, carnival rides and live performances from Battle of the Bands winner Steve Tedman, Go Go Gadjet, and American Authors. -Photo Editor/Justin Fata

Ellie Leick also contributed to this report