Sloughfest celebrates end of finals week


Aubrey Lathrop

Sloughfest will return to campus on May 21 after being canceled due to distance-learning last year. However, large crowds put people at risk of spreading COVID-19, so the event will look different than past festivals.
While meetings are still being held for the concert committee, their plan right now is to enforce masking and social distancing along with creating zones for people to stand in, similar to the candlelight vigil held on the Erickson Field on Sept. 24.
Student Life Programming Board (SLPB) advisor Ken Brill has been overseeing the concert committee and helping as needed. Brill said that the COVID-19 safety precautions are flexible and may change more before the official event.
“We’re in region two of the state of Illinois so we’re following CDC, the state of Illinois, Rock Island County, Augustana College and all of those entities at any point can change and we just need to be able to respond to that,” Brill said. 
Another difference between this year’s Sloughfest and past festivals is the date that the event is being held. In past years, the festival was held towards the beginning of May. This year, however, the event is being held at the very end of finals week.
Senior Caroline Morris serves as a co-executive director for Sloughfest planning this year. Morris said the main reason for the later date is that there was hesitation that the event could even be held in the first place.
“On our end, we didn’t have as much time to plan the event because of COVID. And then we also wanted to make sure that we gave ourselves enough time to make sure that we had like the event planned safely,” Morris said.
In addition to a new date and more safety precautions, the Sloughfest planning team is discussing a new layout for the event that will allow for more distancing than in past years.
“There was a big stage over by the concession stand on the football field. For production reasons that’s a good location but for COVID reasons, it may not be a good location, Brill said.”
Senior Alison Ng is serving on the Sloughfest executive board this year. Ng believes that the later date could have an impact on attendance.
“That’s also why we’ve started advertising the date earlier than I feel like we have in past years, so that people can plan ahead when they’re going home because most first-years and sophomores like to go home as soon as they can,” Ng said. “We’re trying to make it as inclusive as possible, obviously in getting those first years and sophomores informed about it, and especially the date and time.” 
The artist selection process has also been more difficult this year than in years past. Due to budget restrictions, the committee has usually focused on finding artists who are still on the rise but will still gain the interest of students. “Well, in this last year, nobody worked, so there’s no one on the rise. So that put a little bump in the road. So then the student committee basically said, ‘Well, let’s take a step back. What kind of experience do we want?’,” Brill said.
The marketing for the event will still remain similar to past years. The Sloughfest team is planning to contact the communications team at Augustana soon and have the event added into the Student Bulletin.
“And then of course we’ll be selling some merchandise later on in the brew or in the quad with social distancing and mask wearing,”Morris said.
The lists of artists will be released on May 7, two weeks before the festival. Each hour on this day, an artist will be released leading up to the headliner at midnight.
Despite the changes being made to Sloughfest, students are still excited for the chance to end the year on a musical note. Junior Madeline Runge is looking forward to a sense of normalcy after a difficult year.
“I just miss being surrounded by a lot of people, honestly just everyone in one place, having fun,,” Runge said. “I don’t think anyone has been in that kind of environment for a really long time, so I definitely just missed the whole aspect of it.”