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October's First Thursdays festival draws IU students for art and food



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Students gather near the President’s House Oct. 1 for First Thursdays. The monthly First Thursdays celebrations are still happening despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now more spread out to comply with social distancing guidelines. Joe Schroeder

Crowds of IU students flocked to the second First Thursdays festival of the semester, which began at 3 p.m. Thursday. First Thursdays is an outdoor festival dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the arts, culture and creativity at IU. 

The First Thursdays festival occurs on the first Thursday of most months in the IU Arboretum, the Arts Plaza on Seventh Street and between Woodburn Hall and the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater . Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees had to register online before attending and wear masks during the festival.

At this month's festival, students ate from a variety of food trucks, explored booths from different culture centers and creative organizations at IU and watched performances from student artists, musicians and dance groups. 

Jasmine Bergman, a web design intern for the Arts and Humanities Council, said the festival celebrates arts communities on campus.

“Anything you could think that's related to arts, language, music, anything, they typically have an information booth set out, and you can go get information and learn how to participate,” Bergman said.

Bergman said the Arts and Humanities Council begins planning the next First Thursdays festival immediately after the previous one finishes and typically starts by brainstorming what booths and performers they want to feature . 

They started setting up the event early in the day and finished about an hour before the event started Bergman said.

The council handed out creativity kits, which included notebooks and drawing materials as they walked around the festival. Due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations, the council cannot set up it’s normal ineractive booths and arts and crafts tables because it would lead to students standing in close proximity to one another.

Bergman said she enjoys handing out the kits at First Thursdays because they give students something to do in their dorm rooms and they make people happy.

“It just, it makes their day." Bergman said "I can tell it does because a lot of people get excited when they see the kits, and it's just nice seeing them get excited."

IU freshman Alison Dry attended the October First Thursday after enjoying the September First Thursday , which she attended with her friends.

“One of my favorite organizations today was through IU Corps ,“ Dry said. “We were able to make T-shirts that said what we stood for. So mine was, I stand for kindness, and you could say whatever you wanted.”

Dry said she enjoyed the event and felt safe because it took place outside and all attendees were wearing their masks.

IU freshman Ella Miller said she also felt safe at the First Thursday festival.

“I really like how spread out everything is, I feel like that's good because it spreads out the people who are attending,“ Miller said.

Miller was drawn to the event by her friends and the promise of art supplies and other giveaway items that are available at the various booths. She said this was her first time attending the festival and enjoyed the music and available art supplies.

“We stopped by this one tent and there are these people playing music,” Miller said. “They had guitars and a saxophone and trumpet and it was really cool.” 

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