In one of the biggest “free-stuff” give-aways of the year, Bearkat Mania is uniting students and businesses from all over Huntsville. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the LSC ballroom on Wednesday and Thursday, KSAM and the department of student activities are collaborating to produce the first tradeshow of the year.
The Mania is a long-standing tradition of SHSU’s, beginning around thirty years ago, according to Brooke Addams, operations manager for KSAM.
“It’s a tradition where our local businesses could come down and basically meet the new students and the returning students can get reacquainted with what we have here in Huntsville…it’s a great opportunity for the businesses to get some one-on-one with the college students and college students are so important to the economy they’re really happy to do this,” Addams said.
Wednesday, the first day of Bearkat Mania, brought in high numbers of students. Addams credits it in part to some changes made, notably pushing the event back a week and upping the advertising.
“The number of exhibitors isn’t at an all time high, but it’s certainly one of the highest we’ve had in recent years and the attendance has been fantastic,” Addams said. “We felt like after the last few years of dwindling participation, we thought maybe kids just didn’t know about it.”
The businesses involved offered fun gimmicks and give-aways to attract student attention. Trey Krum, with the Fellowship of Huntsville group, handed out slushies with his message.
“We’re just here trying to give students hope and an opportunity to find a church home, so we’re letting them know what we do as a church, giving them information.”
In addition to the expected local businesses, companies like Mary Kay, Suddenlink, and Beach Bronze Airbrush Tanning offered information about their products and services.
“We have had a great student response,” Kelli Thorn, with Beach Bronze, said. “We have four big boxes of candy that we gave away, and I’ve already had phone calls from the advertisements around town.”
Wandering through the booths, students were offered an array of freebies, brochures, and food. Many are returning participants, coming back for the second, third, or fourth year in a row to take advantage of the mania.
“I’ve been doing it for the last three years and I don’t see anything wrong with it. They give away free stuff and get to know the community, and it’s kind of nice,” Jarrod Sterrett, participant, said.
Coupons were especially a pervasive item at the event. The books distributed include offers from businesses all over, including the Potato Shack, Subway, Huntsville Lanes, and Cavenders.
“I think it’s really cool to be able to come down here and get some free stuff. the coupons are really popular,” Josh Shafer, junior, said. “Every one of them because they all have coupons to give.”
Bearkat Mania ends today, Sept. 4. It officially closes at 2 p.m. in the LSC Ballroom. Vendors will be set up until closing, uniting the community with countless freebies.
“This year we actually got more involved with the community around campus, like all the businesses are getting involved,” Serna said. “Coupons, who doesn’t want coupons?”