Despite menacing clouds, the “Great Bamboo Boat Race,” the Beer Tent, the 14th Annual Petruccelli 5k/Walk/Bike ride, the golf tournament, and other celebratory events proceeded as planned, part of the fourth annual Hawktoberfest (also known as Family Weekend). This year, Hawktoberfest was earlier than usual; it was the first weekend in October spanning Friday the 5 through Saturday the 6.
Each family weekend, students and their families are presented with several options with regards to activities. Students can either take their families to scheduled events, they can go out to the haunted lighthouse at Point Lookout, or they can show their families how they live at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, doing anything from going to town or going the movie in Cole Cinema. Hawktoberfest 2012 consisted of the usual Family Weekend events: brunch, tours on the river and of Historic St. Mary’s City, as well as the well-known bamboo boat race.
The bamboo boat race has often been called participants’ (and viewers’) favorite event of Family Weekend, as students and teachers alike construct bamboo boats and race in a circle around buoys. The important thing for viewers to remember, however, is that the real challenge is keeping the boat afloat.
Teams of three to six were allowed to sign up, for a $10 entry per team, the winners raking in far more than that. Rules were posted online at the waterfront website, and handed out to each team, along with a list of materials given. A key material, of course, was bamboo, along with polyethylene film, duct tape, and sisal twine. In the past, it was a race of cardboard boats, but two years ago the materials were changed to use more green materials and save on costs.
According to Assistant Director of Waterfront Activities Rick Loheed, who organized the event this year, “It cost about $1400 using cardboard and only $400 with bamboo. So that saves on price. In addition, the bamboo is grown by Mattapany Road and stored in the North Barn for future years.”
The race is fairly structured. From 12:30 to 3:30pm, teams built their boats, with the race at 4pm. And in keeping with true college student work ethics, many boats donned their plastic hull mere minutes before the time was up by frantically working students.
Some teams were hopeful about their carefully planned designs, others not so much. “Our progression of goals has gone from win, to finish, to float, to get a boat out,” said Zeke Rogers, a first year on the team The Deadweights.
Others had more optimistic goals. The Sailing Club sponsored a team this year, wanting to promote the clubs involvement on campus more. Junior Rob Crook was optimistic and hopeful, “We’ll give it our best, and expect nothing less from all of the sailing club.” Their main objectives were to have fun, stay afloat, and pass the heat, but most importantly fun.
There were three races, two initial rounds to determine who paddled in the final, and a third for those who lost the first two. However, because there were multiple boats swimming with the fishes, the final race was composed of all floating boats. A slight drizzle caused the spectators to flock to the waterfront building, and wait out the brief drizzle after the first race.
Senior Sean Jenkins-Houk said, “The race was awesome, despite a few cuts and our rower’s demands for ‘compensation.’”
In addition to the much anticipated bamboo boat race, Hawktoberfest also hosted a hospitality tent which sold beer with a food truck near by, and at which Three Man River Band played. Alumni were encouraged to stop by, mingle with other alumni, eat, drink, and enjoy the music from the local band.
Despite the fact that Hawktoberfest took place the weekend traditionally regarded as fall break, President Urgo said the attendance was not diminished at all. “It ended up not being bad” having Hawktoberfest and fall break same weekend, Urgo said, because it freed up students’ weekend. Instead of not being able to spend time with their parents because of homework, or neglecting obligations to visit with their families, students were able to spend time knowing they had no class till Wednesday. Though he didn’t know the exact number, Urgo believed there were a record number of families in attendance.
Overall, Hawktoberfest went smoothly, Urgo said. “It was a great success.”