Back to the Future FEST

Program_Council_page_044_1979

Mary Lou Vainisi (BUS ’81, MAC ’82), far left in the back row, enjoyed her time on Program Council.

A long time ago—40 years, to be exact—Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne decided to throw a party on then-vacant Navy Pier. The event featured a variety of food vendors, bands and amusements. It was called ChicagoFest.

Mary Lou Vainisi (BUS ’81, MAC ’82) thought that was an idea worth stealing.
“Every year at DePaul, we planned a party in spring that was basically an all-nighter,” says Vainisi, who served on the Program Council, precursor to today’s DePaul Activities Board (DAB). “We had a different theme for the party every year, and in 1979 we decided to do a takeoff on ChicagoFest.”
1979FestartworkIn case anyone missed the reference, the council riffed on the logo for ChicagoFest, which was a musical note in the water. “We put the DePaul [logo] on top of a musical note and called it DePaulFest.”

Like today’s FEST, the party featured food and music. It also offered free movies, giveaways and carnival games staged in and around the now demolished Stuart Center, which was then the student center. But DePaulFest in 1980 was missing a popular attraction from prior years: quarter beers.

“The drinking age had just been raised to 21, and ZBT [the bar in the Stuart Center] had closed. We didn’t know if anyone would come to the all-nighter,” Vainisi remembers. In addition to distributing flyers and advertising in the DePaulia, worried council members painted the Fest logo on sidewalks outside the Stuart Center in an effort to drum up interest.

Their fears were groundless. Whether it was the promotion or the prospect of a good party, there was a good turnout in 1979, Vainisi says.

“There were so many different things to do,” Vainisi says. “You could wander around the building, find something that you wanted to do and just hang out till the middle of the night, which, when you’re in college, is what you want to do.”

While DePaulFest was simply the name for the all-nighter in 1979, the word “fest” was resurrected a few years later. The spring concert now has been named FEST for 34 years, says Rigo Gutierrez, program coordinator for campus activities. Proving that good ideas are still worth stealing, he says that DAB is incorporating fresh activities into the spring concert on May 24, 2019.

Vainisi hopes that the members of DAB are having as much fun as she did planning schoolwide events. “The school treated us as a leadership group, and we were really close. I have very fond memories of the Program Council and our events.”

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