Valley Ballyhoo to take center stage this weekend

As students and faculty prepare for the upcoming school year at Western Carolina University, the staff at the University Center is still busy organizing the annual Valley Ballyhoo event, where students will get an opportunity to become involved in campus activities and learn a little bit more about their new home in the mountains. Valley Ballyhoo takes place on the UC Lawn from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday.

While the origins of Valley Ballyhoo are somewhat shrouded in mystery, the event seemingly got its origins in 1992 through the efforts of Dr. Bill Haggard of the Office of Student Affairs. Since then, the annual Valley Ballyhoo event has become a staple in Western’s Week of Welcome.

In its essence, Valley Ballyhoo is an event that strives to get information to students about clubs, organizations and local vendors. Over the years the event has seen its own group and vendor participation increase with the growing student population.

Kim Corelli, University Center Office Manager, related that “Valley Ballyhoo was a successful event from the get-go, but has never been as successful as it is today.”

Corelli and her department work to sign student organizations, vendors, and bands to come and interact with the students arriving on campus.

While a band has yet to be confirmed for the event this year, some of the groups that consistently get a table each year include the registered Greek Life organizations, club sports, campus ministries and area churches, the University Police Department and EMS, The Leadership Institute, and The Community Table.

There is no telling what groups may be there, but students can be assured that many eager organizations will be present to hand out information and the ever-enjoyable freebies.

One of these groups is The Community Table, a “nonprofit organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to our neighbors in need in a welcoming environment through our community kitchen and food pantry programs,” according to Amy Grimes, the group’s Executive Director.

The Community Table worked hard to serve over 20,000 meals in 2010, but Grimes admits that the need for more food is still high.

Many groups like The Community Table find that Valley Ballyhoo is a great way to connect with both returning and new students. The event is a chance to inform the students about their community and, for nonprofit organizations like The Community Table, to show them ways to help out and give back to it.

The Community Table is currently working hand-in-hand with Professor Bob Ford and his Construction Management students to renovate a facility that will serve as the group’s new headquarters. Valley Ballyhoo is pivotal in fostering the type of community/student teamwork displayed by the efforts of The Community Table and the students of Professor Ford’s Construction Management classes.

Grimes and The Community Table, much like other organizations, will be showcasing this cooperative effort between the group and WCU students in an effort to get new students to help the cause and become involved with ideas and people that will teach them lasting values such as teamwork and selflessness and give them a chance to help out the local community.

The official freshman move-in day is today, and along with that, Convocation and Resident Student Association First Night will be taking place later that evening at 5:00 and 9:00 p.m., respectively.

Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Freshman Assembly will be in effect and then Valley Ballyhoo will be taking place. In the event of light rain, Valley Ballyhoo is scheduled to go on. However, in the event of a downpour like last year, the event may be cancelled.

Students can check the university website for more information and both student organizations and off-campus groups can register online until all slots are filled.

Corelli summed up the spirit of Valley Ballyhoo by saying, “There are always a wide range of groups that sign up, so practically every student can find something of interest!”

Following up on Sunday is Village Pallooza and Tubing on the Tuck, both beginning at 5:00 p.m., and then at 9:00 p.m. that evening on the University Center Lawn the film “Rango” will be shown with free admission to all students.