Chariot races drive Fieldstock

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 8/15/06 5:00am

Onlookers flocked to the Green on Saturday for the revival of the College's chariot races, part of the first annual Fieldstock festival. Students had mixed opinions on the success of the event, which was created to replace Tubestock, an almost 20-year-old summer party on the Connecticut River that was never sanctioned by the College.

Five fraternities and four sororities built homemade chariots using PVC pipes, wagons, couch cushions, duct tape and other household items. Students and other attendees lined the straightaway racecourse on the east side of the Green at 3 p.m. to watch the first Dartmouth chariot race in over 20 years. Any group of sophomore students was eligible to participate, but all nine groups that participated were Greek organizations, Class Council President Tess Reeder '08 said -- something that she hopes to see change in future summers.

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity won the men's competition and Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority won the women's race.

Sig Ep President Sean Walsh '08 said that enthusiasm for the event rose among members of his fraternity as the competition drew nearer.

"I think initially people were a little skeptical about the idea of Fieldstock," Walsh said, "but as we got closer and as there was more excitement about competitions among the Greek houses, the brothers got a little more involved and a little more interested in the chariot races."

Although nine groups participated in the chariot races, 13 Greek houses had initially signed up to compete. Hayley Kennedy '08, president of Sigma Delta sorority, said her house backed out of the race because not enough members were interested in constructing the chariot, though several members had hoped to participate.

"We had a lot going on in the house and it was understandable that the girls' enthusiasm was directed elsewhere," Kennedy said.

Reeder, who organized the event with Class Council and representatives from different Greek houses, said the chariot races were the most successful aspect of Fieldstock.

"I think we had a lot more people show up than we initially expected," she said.

Reeder said that after the chariot races, a few hundred people attended the events located on the Bema, which included a cover band, barbecue and mud pit. People "came and went," though she said there was some confusion when the chariot races ended earlier than expected because the band on the Bema was not yet playing. She later added that the mud pit was not a success, but said that the concept could be improved upon in future summers.

Students who attended Fieldstock said that the event was successful for its first year, and said that Fieldstock can develop into an annual Dartmouth tradition.

"I think there's a lot of promise," Walsh said. "I know Class Council put in a lot of effort to get the event off the ground and I think that it was a relaxed atmosphere that people could appreciate."

But for some students who attended the last Tubestock in 2005, Fieldstock was not an adequate alternative. Alex Ou '07 said the safety precautions that Class Council and the College took made Fieldstock less exciting than its Connecticut River counterpart.

"I don't think anything that was College approved could really be a replacement for Tubestock," Ou said.

Ou said that Fieldstock could be improved by extending the length of the chariot races and said he hopes that future classes can convince the administration to "allow students to take care of their own safety a little bit."

Reeder said in the future she hopes that the event will be announced earlier so that students on campus will have more time to build their chariots and to plan for the weekend. She added that she hopes Class Council can team up with other organizations, such as Programming Board, to make the day more successful.

"There are definitely improvements that can be made in the future, but considering it was the first year I think everyone is really happy with how the event went," Reeder said of all the representatives and Class Council members who coordinated the event.