The Ladies Who Keep the Fall Carnival Alive

Kent Atkinson · Oct 14 2019 · 3 min read

Kent Atkinson

Oct 14, 2019

Most college students do not have two dimes to rub together or an hour to spare. Especially during week seven of an academic term at New Saint Andrews College—you can almost hear the sirens in students’ heads warning them of the incoming finals of week eight. Library attendance surges, caffeine levels spike. Yet, during week seven in September, students spend their money and time buying candy, costumes, and building booths.

It’s for the Fall Carnival, an event open to the community, complete with booths, costume contests, dinner, face-painting, and so on. Senior Priscilla Paul organized this fourteenth year. “If I ever have an anxious thought about [the planning], it’s about student involvement.” That’s because, since it started, the Fall Carnival has been entirely student run and student funded. There is no board, no documentation, no advisor—rather, it has been passed down like an oral tradition year to year. “I shadowed Lizzie McGee last year,” says Priscilla; this year, sophomore Julia Rieb is training under Priscilla for next year. It is up to them to generate enough interest and student participation to keep the carnival alive. And since its beginning, it has been organized by the ladies of New Saint Andrews.

Fall Carnival costume judges, including alumni and friends.

Alumna Lindsey Tollefson, living in Moscow now with three kids of her own, started the event in 2005: “I think it was in my junior or senior year.” Lindsey was working with several moms in the community who all wanted a fall event with candy and costumes, but none were available. While students often receive housing, gifts, mentorship, and countless blessings from the families and community, there weren’t many opportunities for students to give back. So Lindsey gathered representatives from each class to delegate projects through the student body. Even in its first year, student involvement was high; “I was blown away by the response. I didn’t feel like I was doing it on my own.” The community involvement was high as well: “We ended up maxing out the venue.” Priscilla says it’s fitting that women have run the Fall Carnival: “I think it’s because women are very good at hosting,” and networking with the moms in the community is essential. 

Since then, New Saint Andrews College ladies have been handing it down, class by class, with each new leader “hounding” their classmates to create entertaining booths for the kids. “It ended up being a blessing for the students as well,” said Lindsey of that first year. Priscilla agrees— “Students like giving back, and being part of a long tradition.” In other words, New Saint Andrews students want to contribute to a legacy of community service. They are furthering the suffusion of neighborly love in Moscow and the college. “Community is one of the most attractive parts of Moscow and the college. This is a ‘thank you.’” Priscilla and her peers also enjoy shouldering the responsibility: “If you offer responsibility in one hand, and no responsibility in the other, the former is more attractive because we can accomplish something meaningful. And the Fall Carnival is our responsibility as students.”

Child tossing a pumpkin at a fall carnival game As growing generations shun responsibility and expect others to serve them, New Saint Andrews College is grateful that their students are different. Priscilla Paul, Lindsey Tollefson, and the many women in between have furthered the Moscow project of creating a connected community and living out the command to “consider others as more significant than yourselves.” Now, Lindsey’s own children enjoy the carnival she created years ago: “It’s the highlight of September [for my kids]. I’m thrilled New Saint Andrews students are still doing it—it  requires someone to step up.” This year’s someone was Priscilla Paul along with the countless other students who sacrificed their time and money for the joy of serving. Lindsey sums up the feelings of many: “I love this community.”

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