Hill 'n the Ville facilitates community interactions
The fourth annual Hill 'n the Ville festival took place this past Saturday. The daylong festival featured live performances by bands, booths run by local vendors selling their goods and games for people of all ages to enjoy.
Hill 'n the Ville is a joint venture between Colby's Student Government Association (SGA) and the community organization Waterville Main Street to "give Colby Students and the local Waterville community a chance to interact and 'meet' each other," said event organizer and Waterville resident and businessman Erik Thomas.
Emily Cook '11 is a student leader on the Colby-Waterville Alliance (CWA) and was in charge of working with the SGA at Colby to obtain funding for the event and organizing student volunteers to staff the games.
Hill 'n the Ville is like a summer carnival with many activities, but the main draw is the music. "This is the most important piece to ensuring that the event is well attended by college students and the local community," Thomas said. "If we don't have something that people want to see, then we won't have many people there. I started looking for acts back in March this year."
The featured bands this year were Adam Ezra Group, Ryan Montbleau Band, Rustic Overtones and The Palace Flophouse, a band composed of recent Colby alums Nicholas Van Niel '10, Daniel Reeves '10, Eric McDowell '10 and Daniel Austin '10, who won Battle of the Bands last semester (also an event organized by CWA).
Attendees were not limited to Waterville residents and Colby students. A number of attendees came from neighboring towns like Newport and Windsor, Maine with the express purpose of seeing the bands play, attesting to Thomas' acumen in musical selection.
With regard to the event itself, the weather cooperated and attendees were met with a beautiful, sunny day. Some COOT² leaders used the event as an opportunity for a COOT² reunion while others Colby students lounged on the lawn with their friends and watched the bands play. Families came out with their young children and had a picnic next to the scenic Kennebec River.
The festival provided plenty to keep parents and children alike entertained. Volunteers staffed the games which included a huge bounce house with slides, sumo suits, life-sized bowling and a mechanical bull. Vendors hawked their wares from their booths, whether it was the Midnight Express Food Cart offering up fried foods of all kinds or the Jorgensen's stand, where you could buy freshly squeezed lemonade. And of course, music surrounded you at all times.
Cook summarized the success of this year's event with the following anecdote: "One volunteer told me yesterday that a mother of one of the kids playing in the [bounce house] came up to the volunteer gushing about how glad she was that students would volunteer their time to play with kids as she usually does not see 'people your age' giving up their time so easily. In that small way the volunteers showed the community, or at least one woman, that the stereotype of Colby students as snobby, rich kids is not accurate."
Although Hill 'n the Ville is a daylong event, it is meant to facilitate a long term and ongoing relationship. "Hopefully some of the stereotypes that Waterville residents have about Colby students, and vice-versa are broken down," Thomas said. "Also, hopefully students feel more like a part of the community. After all, they are going to be here for four years. They should take the chance to get off campus and explore the city."
The major complaint from students seems to be that there is "nothing to do in Waterville." However, events like Hill 'n the Ville, Harvest Fest, Burst the Bubble Week, Get Up Downtown, concerts and plays at the Opera House and organizations like Waterville Main Street and Colby-Waterville Alliance (CWA) show that a network already exists between the College and its students and the town. Waterville and the neighboring areas provide ample opportunities for exploration and activity.