Rowan seniors’ initiative brings vibrant Music & Arts Festival to Glassboro

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“Without the work of the sponsorship director, Matusek, there would not have been a majority of businesses present to show off their creations, music, and foods. “ - All photos via Ama Wick

The Mayor of the Borough of Glassboro, John E. Wallace, announced a few months ago the partnership between the town and four senior students from the Department of Music at Rowan University. Following this announcement, came the formation of an event important to Rowan seniors, Alyssa McAvoy, Grace Matusek, Leah Clemens, and Samantha Rinaldi. 

The Main Street Music and Arts Festival was held on April 6, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Glassboro Town Square. The festival had over 30 vendors, each providing handmade crafts, baked goods, personal care products, and much more. There were also several food trucks with options for everyone, from pizzas to cheesesteaks. The highlight of the event was their live music, featuring bands well-known at Rowan, but also bands outside of the Glassboro community. 

What started as an idea for the four seniors’ capstone project, eventually became an event with over 200 people in attendance. McAvoy, one of the four founders, had the role of production manager and live sound engineer, who oversaw everything from the festival. Her connections allowed for a start to produce this event. 

“About a year ago I was able to help Rowan, I got paid to do live sound for the live sound department. That’s where I met the mayor and the event coordinator, Megan Vurrell,” McAvoy said. “So using those connections, I reached out to them and I was like, ‘I want to make this happen.’ I got the girls on board and here we are.” 

The idea, which formed from the touring and promotion class two years ago, was once just a mock festival, but on Saturday it became a place for vendors to display their talents and music artists to showcase their skills. It became a place of a united community, Rinaldi stated that this event was aimed at bridging the gap between Glassboro and Rowan. 

“When we were talking about why we wanted to do this in the beginning, we knew that Rowan University, obviously, like a college town,” said Rinaldi. “Glassboro outside of Rowan, has a lot of families and the elderly, so it’s very different. Our whole thing was to bring the community all together by getting a variety of different artists, different genres, diversities, different everything.” 

This inclusive aspect of their event allowed people to learn from vendors whose cultures are different from theirs. Vendors like Ayla Laboy, a Puerto Rican business owner, were happy to share her desserts with Glassboro residents and Rowan students as well. Her business, which specializes in dessert empanadas and catering, sets her apart from other people, her empanadas are homemade, and she carefully examines the taste of her creations to get the perfect texture and balance of flavor. She also wants people to realize that family is highly valued in her business. 

“We’re family based here, I have my son, my dad, my mom, and friends here. We’re all family authentic and I am very passionate about my recipes,” said Laboy. 

Visitors could enjoy live music while they shopped and sat down to have a couple of bites. With performances from Vera Caruso & Jonah Banks, Shark Earrings, Gianna, Surf Jerkz, Madhavi Devi, Gustavo, Polaroid Fade, and Bar None, there was music that everyone could enjoy. Along with musical acts, the festival featured talents from Nick Ciufo, also known as “DJ Choof,” who specializes in audio engineering, producing, and much more. 

Without the work of the sponsorship director, Matusek, there would not have been a majority of businesses present to show off their creations, music, and foods. For Matusek, she had to find a way for businesses to answer back on inquiries about possibly being a part of the festival, so her role did come with obstacles. 

“Getting businesses to answer was a little bit like pulling teeth, but you know, once I kind of went into businesses and kind of knocked on their doors a little bit more aggressively,” said Matusek. “I was able to kind of get a lot of cool stuff and Pancheros donated some free chips and Red Bull was able to donate 40 cases.” 

Though the weather was not quite on the seniors’ side it did not stop families and students from dancing in the cold to the music or strolling along to each vendor. Weather issues were always a fear for the team, but another important one was the thought that as this was the first festival on Main Street dedicated to the arts and music, could there have been a low turnout.

Marketing and social media director Leah Clemens assured that the message of the event would get all around the town. Whether that was through Glassboro kiosks, signs, word of mouth, or most importantly, social media. 

“I think there’s always that fear but we were lucky because this was on the same day as accepted students day and so that ended right as this started,” said Clemens. “I think that all the people who were very interested in ‘oh, what’s the campus like?’ got a nice surprise from us.” 

Several musical groups on campus also tabled to amplify their club missions and let guests learn about their initiatives. Rowan Midi, Rowan Music Group, and Silver Stain Booking were just a couple of the clubs present at the event. 

For these seniors, as they graduate from Rowan, their main goal is to pass on this festival to the rising upperclassmen and eventually make this event a yearly thing. 

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com.

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