KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The swag, the performances, the unending line for Celebration! Cinema refillable popcorn buckets as Sangren Plaza bustles with activity—it's a sight we haven't seen since before COVID-19 was part of our vocabulary. Bronco Bash is charging back in person this year, for the first time since 2019, in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
"I think this is really setting a positive tone for the upcoming year. It's a way to get students excited to be around other students and get involved and be active," says Maddie Christians, a graphic design student who is working as a design and marketing intern for Bronco Bash 2022. "I think it's going to be an excitement that we've been missing."
"People are just excited to have this back, because it's not just an event. It's a way for people to connect and build community right off the bat to start the school year," adds Alexa Girouard, interim assistant director of campus engagement.
Thousands are expected to welcome back Bronco Bash on Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. Booths will be spread out from Sangren Plaza east down West Michigan Avenue. WMU President Edward Montgomery will kick off the festivities with a welcome followed by the ROTC Cannon Crew firing off a ceremonial blast from Boomer the cannon. The Bronco Marching Band and cheer and dance teams will also perform along with student acapella group No Strings Attached; Sigma Gamma Rho and Lambda Theta Alpha sororities, who will perform salutes and strolls; HitSquad student dance group; and Hello Weekend, the headlining band.
"I'm just so excited to have the campus be busy and active and to be around students. It's just such a fun experience," Christians says. "I think this is really setting a positive tone for the upcoming year."
Adding to the block-party feel, there will also be carnival food, caricature and henna artists, an airbrush tattooist and 360-degree photo booth for visitors to enjoy.
Nearly 200 Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) have registered booths for Bronco Bash. Whether you're interested in getting active on the dodgeball court, strutting your stuff on the runway with MODA, networking with fellow food marketing students and professionals, joining Greek life or even jumping out of planes with the Skydive Broncos, there's something for everyone.
"Bronco Bash has that purpose of helping students find where they fit," Girouard says. "It's a piece of what college is all about. It's not just about academics; it's about those people you find and those experiences you have outside the classroom, too."
"Staying involved and making those connections is really what college is all about," adds Sierra Ward, a second-year business student who is helping bring the You Beautiful Black Woman RSO back to campus after a yearslong hiatus. She and other members of the organization's executive board are excited to talk to students about joining their group at Bronco Bash. "(At Western), the opportunities are really endless. You just have to really put yourself out there."
RSO leaders emphasize it doesn't matter which group you join, but finding an organization or activity to engage with can be the key to thriving on campus.
"Joining an organization is a little gift to yourself. It improves your mental health dramatically, because we are consistently socializing and doing fun things," says Nayeli Guandique-Benítez, Western Student Association representative for the Latino Student Alliance (LSA). "(Our) organization is a community of members that give you the feeling of being at home. LSA gives me the space to sprinkle a little bit of my culture into every corner of the University."
Bronco Bash is also a chance for students to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with campus and the services and programs that are available as well as businesses and organizations in the surrounding community. Many will have booths and be giving out swag during the event, including the fan-favorite refillable popcorn buckets. A complete list of vendors is available on the Bronco Bash webpage.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.