Pierce is a community college, and it has a rich history of events that used to bring in the public. These days however, there are fewer, and the big draws have all disappeared. Gone are the days of the Harvest Festival and Farm Market.
Enrollment has dipped, down six percent this semester. Available funds are less than what they once were after reserves dropped from $8 million to $1 million last semester. Hosting large scale events that bring in the community could help both of those issues by increasing awareness of Pierce and bringing in outside revenue.
For 10 years, from 2005-2014, the Pierce College Farm Center hosted the Harvest Festival. Controlled by the Enterprise Group, the festival was designed to “provide alternative sources of funding to support Pierce’s academic programs,” according to the group’s 2004-05 report.
One year after the inaugural Harvest Festival, the Farm Market opened on the same grounds, followed by Christmas tree lot.
According to an article from the Daily News, the Farm Center was the largest on-campus employer of Pierce students. However, administrators made the decision to close down the operation following Christmas in 2014.
This wasn’t the first activity to disappear from campus. The previous year, Heritage Days, a Civil War reenactment, was cancelled. The Daily News reported it was due to the complaints from a small number of local residents.
Explosions and gunpowder getting the boot from campus was nothing new. For more than 20 years the campus hosted a Fourth of July fireworks show until it was cancelled in 1996. This was not due to noise complaints from neighbors, rather the litter and damage left on campus, and the expense to the school to fix such issues.
Large scale events are not the only things that can be used to bring in the neighboring communities. Club events, if properly advertised, could also engage the public.
Community events don’t only bring in revenue, but awareness. While the campus may sit on hundreds of acres, it is tucked away and often can be forgotten. Hosting events brings the existence of Pierce back into the public-eye. Not every student at Pierce is here to get an associates degree or transfer. Many are here to simply take a class or two to further enrich their lives.