Picture this: it’s the peak of noon, the sun is hot, and there is a field-wide tarp stretched out in the centre of Brock University’s Jubilee Court. Atop that tarp? 80 bushels worth of grapes being squashed by hundreds of the university’s finest.
Since 2001, Brock has held an annual Grape Stomp at the beginning of each school year during harvest season for the vineyards that the Niagara region is so well known for. In fact, there are 88 wineries in the general niagara region as of 2014. In celebration of the vineyards that not only mark the region as a grape and wine capital, but also as an extremely scenic area, Brock’s Student Life and Community Experience department hosted the event.
Locality is key at the Grape Stomp. All of the grapes involved are locally sourced from the Niagara Region, particularly from a farm in the Beamsville area.
“We really tried to amp up the canned food goods drive — the donation part of the Stomp,” Haley Veronyak, one of SLCE’s event coordinators, said of her goals for the day. “Although it didn’t go as well as we hoped, I think people are more aware of it now. Other than that, we wanted to focus on getting numbers. We always want to include as many Badgers as we can; we just want everyone to come out and have an awesome time and, as you can see, everyone is having a ton of fun.”
During the event, it wasn’t hard to see that the Badgers that were involved were definitely having a good time. One team was dressed in bright, purple colours in the spirit of all things grape. Hannah Dabbs, one of their members, in a neon purple tutu, said that her and her team were “ready to stomp!” Another member of her team, Kristen Stahlke, echoed her sentiment, saying that they had “grape expectations.” On her feelings toward the event, Veronyak mirrored Dabbs’ and Stahlke’s enthusiasm.
“I feel accomplished,” Veronyak said. “I was a little worried this morning that things weren’t going to go as well as we’d hoped, our numbers were looking a little low just from the ExperienceBU registration, but we had a ton of people sign up just on the day of, so seeing the entire tarp crowded with people is amazing.”
“It’s a big tradition at Brock, so we want to get involved,” said Nora Pattenden, one first year on a team of five who were all dressed in matching, DIY-d t-shirts, excited to get stomping.
“I feel great,” said Veronyak. “People look like they’re having fun and at the end of the day that’s what Student Life is all about.”