Last Friday, the University Programs Council (UPC) put on its annual Springfest event. The festivities began at 5pm and ended in the Amphitheater with a much-anticipated Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals concert. Unlike in past years, the event took place in three locations – at the South Lawn, in front of Peabody Hall, and near the Corner at the Tog.
The weather was perfect: warm and breezy. Students lined up for free UPC giveaways, delicious fried chicken, Indian cuisine, and food from Duck Donuts, King of Pops, and Take It Away, among other treats. All three locations were filled with laughter, friends, and good music. People wearing balloon hats and eating cotton candy sat with their friends on blankets and enjoyed the bands playing on Grounds for the event.
WUVA News sat down with Courtney Cuppernull, the Vice Chair of Programming for UPC, to discuss the behind-the-scenes preparation for Springfest. The fourth-year Batten and History double major, who has been involved with UPC since her first year, served as VCP with another UPC member, Sophie Liao. The two were tasked with approving all UPC programming, evaluating event proposals, and handling budgeting.
“We organized our committee in about early November, and we met a couple times in the fall semester to start brainstorming and thinking about what we want Springfest to look like in terms of a scene,” Cuppernull told WUVA News. “Do we want it to be music festival vibes or do we want it to be a carnival?”
At this point, Cuppernull and Liao split the Springfest committee into four smaller subcommittees: vendors, artist selection, outreach, and publicity. Cuppernull proudly said that the teams did fantastic work and that the publicity subcommittee “kicked it out of the park.”
“[The publicity subcommittee] came up with a design that was really cool and definitely music festival-y and unique,” she explained. “They designed a ton of swag items that we thought students would want… all trying to stay consistently building on that Springfest logo and brand to build the brand recognition.”
As for the tricky logistics of running a three-site event, Cuppernull remarked that the “site leaders were wonderful and did an incredible job of keeping our staffers organized.”
But it hadn’t been an easy road to get to the big day. After weeks of planning meetings within the groups, UPC hit a road block: as many events tend to do, Springfest was running into scheduling challenges.
Originally, Cuppernull had not wanted Springfest to be the day before the Foxfield Races, which were set to take place on August 28th. She and her team worried that it would be difficult to get students to staff the event and “to break down a stage at 1 in the morning if they’re going to get up at 6, 7, 8 [AM] for Foxfield.”
In the end, Cuppernull believed that setting the event date for August 27th worked out well, especially considering the perfect weather that ultimately hit Charlottesville on that summery day.
But for the fourth-year student, Springfest was more than just a little club event on a nice afternoon. Cuppernull said that she didn’t want it to be the type of event “where people kind of stumble upon it. This year we wanted people to think ‘wow this is something I intentionally want to go to, this is something I can use to celebrate the end of my semester.’”
For her, the goal of the massive endeavor was to pick people’s spirits up after a difficult year for the community.
“The reason that we do what we do is because we like to create those events for people and we like to create those moments for friendship and happiness,” she said. Cuppernull wanted the message of Springfest to be clear: you should always try “to be happy that you exist in this time and place right now and to be appreciative of that.”
Without the hard work of her UPC team, Cuppernull said that the event would just not have been the same.
“It’s something that I’m just so incredibly proud of, particularly because our committee worked so well together…” she noted. “To have Springfest come to such a beautiful fruition was just a testament of all the effort that the committee put in.”