For the first time in 45 years, Pierce College has canceled its fall Harvest Festival, but organizers have promised to bring the program back next spring in connection with the school's annual rodeo.
Organizational and publicity problems and dwindling attendance were major factors in the decision to cancel the event, said Mick Sears, chairman of the agricultural and natural resources department, which sponsors the event.
"Coming right after school starts, it's just hard to get started," Sears said. "It's really tough when students at a commuter-type school try to do something."
Last year's event at the Woodland Hills campus drew only about 2,000 people, despite the attraction of hay rides, a petting zoo, music and food, he said.
With the confusion of the campus swap meet and with other fall festivals held elsewhere, Sears said, agricultural students and faculty "didn't think that we could do a better job than we did last year."
The Harvest Festival will be combined with the rodeo, which is held each May and also coordinated by the agriculture department. The rodeo draws about 10,000 people, Sears said.
"In a sense, I think we're saying, 'Let's string along and add to some event that's been successful,' " he said.
Sears said activities featured at the festival will be added to rodeo events to create more of an "open house" atmosphere.
Margo Murman, chairwoman of the Coalition to Preserve and Revitalize the Pierce College Farm, said she is disappointed with the decision to cancel the event. But she said the group of volunteers will assist with the combined event in the spring. "We are definitely going to be helping in the spring," she said. "Everyone agrees that there should be some kind of open house to highlight" the agricultural program at Pierce.
Plans call for student organizations to sponsor booths featuring services and activities at the spring program. The Associated Students Organization already has allocated $2,000 for security, sanitation and personnel at the new event, which has not yet been named.