New LouFestU initiative presents fun possibilities for WU students

| Senior Cadenza Editor

In a new initiative geared toward showing St. Louis college students what all the city has to offer them, LouFest will be launching LouFest U this Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the night before the festival’s official start. In the spirit of catering to college students, the event will be completely free, with five musical artists performing and dozens of St. Louis businesses present to meet and network with students.

The five acts—Arshad Goods, Smino, Vespeerteen, Tidal Volume and Whethan—make up for their lack of name recognition with the non-existent cost of admission. Rappers Goods and Smino are both St. Louis-born but left the city only to return as their musical careers took off.

That’s the message of the entire afternoon—St. Louis has so much to offer. By bringing in not only St. Louis businesses to give their pitches, but also food vendors and various local activities, the event is trying to give students both a reason to stay and a reason to enjoy staying at the same time.

While the afternoon explicitly caters to all regional college students, the assumption can be made that this is St. Louis’s sell day for Washington University students. As there’s a top-20 university right across the street from where the event is happening, LouFest U is hoping to bring in as many highly qualified, coastal-born Wash. U. kids as possible to snare them for the foreseeable future.

It’s not a bad gambit either. With so many Wash. U. students hard-set on moving to Silicon Valley or New York City or the Hill after graduation, anything and everything that can be done to keep them in the Midwest should be done. St. Louis has started to grow just fine on its own, but why let the easiest pipeline for further growth redirect elsewhere?

Making the event free is probably the master stroke of the whole ploy. College students are notorious for being spendthrifts (normally with good reason), so even as dozens bail and sell their weekend tickets, LouFest can still hope to bring them around on Friday afternoon.

What doesn’t make sense is the wholesale lack of marketing for the event. Why, if my assumption is true, would LouFest not actively promote the LouFest U event on Wash. U.’s campus in the lead-up? Why has there been almost no mention of the event outside of the website and social media?

Maybe it’s because it’s a new thing and organizers don’t want to oversell it, or maybe it’s because organizers know that they don’t have something they can oversell. The event page lists some of the food vendors coming around—and they did manage to book the best, with Vicia, Sugarfire and Evangeline’s all making an appearance—but nowhere does it name the promoted St. Louis businesses, speakers or activities. (OK, one concession: It does say Express Scripts’s Mick Ebeling will be speaking.)

Which brings us back to the free aspect: What do college students have to lose by going to LouFest U? At worst, it’s a networking event with not enough businesses to network with, artists you’ve never heard of, and some decent grub. At best, it showcases all of the best parts of St. Louis while also painting the city as a hub for exponential growth that you can be a part of.

At worst, you go at 4 p.m. and head out by 6 p.m., with still enough time to do whatever you usually do on a Friday night. At best, you go at 4 p.m., get a job offer, dinner and a free concert, leaving at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. to still do whatever you usually do on a Friday.

LouFest U may not seem like the biggest deal at the moment, but it’s a win-win for St. Louis and Wash. U. students.