It is no myth that if you advertise anything as free, college students will come running. Mayfest 2011 was no exception.
Free chicken kabobs, corn dogs, cotton candy and tornadoes — not to mention free beer for those 21 and older — had Syracuse University students hiking on down to Walnut Park Friday to get in on the good grub.
SU Student Association and University Union paired up to sponsor the second annual Mayfest at Walnut with live music from rap acts Hoodie Allen and The Cataracs, two or four free beers for those 21 and older and, yes, free food.
"It's like Christmas, St. Patty's Day, and the 4th of July all bundled into one," international relations graduate student Jon Peres said.
Mayfest entertainment director Kelly Benini confirmed crowds estimates of 4,000 in attendance, which included 350 guest tickets that were sold prior to the event. Friday's figure tops the 3,000 people at Mayfest 2010.
Benini said additional speakers throughout the park added to the entertainment level, so even people away from the stage were able enjoy the music.
The big question that seemed to be a topic of debate again this year was how the festivities compared to Mayfest 2010, which was the first year the event was staged in Walnut Park, versus the traditional day of house parties along Euclid Avenue.
Gray skies and slightly chilly temps didn’t stop students from attending free Walnut Park event.
"I don't think the weather has hampered the turnout," psychology senior Molly Siwula said. "I'm here for the free food."
Photo illustration senior Anthony Garito would have preferred to remain at Euclid where two years ago it seemed untamed.
"Euclid was awesome that year," Garito said. "I would give up my four beers here for a good time. I think it'll get good today, but never like it was two years ago."
Syracuse Police officers seemed to be pleased with the control hosting Mayfest at Walnut brings to the festivities.
Sgt. Nick Kleist said that limiting the alcohol helped to keep the event from getting too out of control.
“They’re not getting totally trashed, and if they do mess up, they’re students so they have to be more careful,” Kleist said. “When it was on Euclid there were tons of problems, like kids hanging out on rooftops."
There were no major incidents at Walnut Park or along Euclid Avenue this year with students getting out of hand. The biggest threat that seemed to be dampening spirits were ominous rain clouds that loomed overhead. But that only meant more students were more packed partying inside the houses on Euclid rather than spreading themselves out on lawns and streets.
Still, a group of brave students bounced in a blow-up castle on the 300 block of Euclid Avenue, while others played beer pong and flip cup nearby, despite the weather. And to Garito that party atmosphere is just for college students.
"It's the one time of year that everyone gets along."
Hoodie Allen performs during Mayfest 2011 at Walnut Park. (Photo by Alexander Abdalian)