Tossing beach balls to huge crowds, fetching supper for a big-time country star, and booking nearly two dozen bands put Converse’s Music Business & Technology students center stage—and backstage—at Spring Fling, the City of Spartanburg’s annual festival.
Ten MUBs, as they affectionately call themselves, collaborated with the City’s Special Events Department to help produce Spartanburg’s largest street party, which drew an estimated 100,000 people along Main Street through the last weekend in April.
“This project really brought the students in my class together as teammates,” says Shannon Ferguson ’19, a Contemporary Music and Media Applications major. “We were able to put on an amazing show, because we were actually out there in the real world, and not in the classroom. We were involved in the community, not just Converse, not just college.”
“It was an unforgettable experience that provided me with skills that I can use throughout my career.”
Mandy Merck, the City’s Special Events Manager, says that when her department was initially approached about involving Converse students in Spring Fling, “We thought, this is very unusual, but we are always up for new ideas and glad we were able to make it happen. Kudos to Converse College for thinking outside the box and giving these students the opportunity to have this real-life experience. We are grateful for the assistance provided to us.”
Students worked hours—and hours—on the festival. Since the start of Spring Term, the MUBs rotated between a classroom in Petrie School of Music’s Blackman Hall and the City’s Special Events offices downtown. There, Galia Rodriguez, the festival coordinator whose infectious energy could power a small city, provided leadership to the class. “We, Special Events, are always talking about how we want to have more interaction with our youth and college students,” she says. “After all, we are a college town. It was so nice to have a group of young college students invested in our festival in order to activate that part of the community.”
MUBs dived into booking bands, eventually handling most of the acts performing on the festival’s four stages. Bands included Converse’s own Sarah Goulette ’20, 4 Out of 5 Doctors, and two Creative Music Ensembles: Indie Kid, What? and Rose-Colored Girls. Other bands ranged from the blues duo of Shane & TJ to the Americana band Vilai Harrington & The Hammertones.
It was at the main Clock Tower stage where behind-the-scenes action hit all the high notes. Friday night, WSSL-FM radio brought headliner William Michael Morgan, the Warner Bros. chart-topping country star best known for his hit single, “I Met a Girl.” One of those ‘girls’ he met—a MUB—had to drive to Wade’s to pick up his band’s meal of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans and yeast rolls. On Sunday, the MUBs produced Final Fling, the festival’s first all-college event, which featured hip-hop artist Kent Jones, whose “Don’t Mind” smash reflected the MUBs’ willingness to deal with the huge event’s multitudinous requirements.
“There are so many details involved with the festival work,” Shannon says. “The hardest part was the money, the budget, and the scheduling. The actual festival was rockin’.”
Psychology major Candice Strong ’19 said, “It was an unforgettable experience that provided me with skills that I can use throughout my career.”