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45th Fall Festival is chock-full of reunions

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Reunions are a highlight of this year’s Fall Festival, the 45th annual, at Bethel College.

Most events take place Oct. 10 on campus, and most are free and open to the public.

Reunions include:

  • a celebration of 90 years of men’s soccer, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. on the Green in the center of campus
  • alumni of Bethel’s Industrial Arts program with former professors Rodney Frey and Emerson Wiens, 10–11 a.m. in Franz Art Center
  • Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marchers, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. in Seminar Room A in Schultz Student Center
  • Mennonite Singers 1955 Europe tour (60th), noon–1:30 p.m. in Kaufman House (KIPCOR) at 2515 College Avenue
  • and former Bethel cheerleaders, 5–6 p.m. during the tailgate barbecue before the homecoming football game.

As usual, there will also be class reunions celebrating 10 through 45 years, at various times and locations across campus, and a reunion of Freeman (South Dakota) Academy and Junior College alumni, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. in the Feast and Fellowship Tent on the Green.

Taste of Newton downtown kicks off Fall Festival, Oct. 8 from 6–9 p.m., featuring a wide variety of food from local restaurants and church and civic groups, plus live entertainment, including Bethel jazz groups, a number of Newton High School music and dance groups and other local performers.

Oct. 9 is the 9th annual STEM Symposium, this year honoring physics, computer science and engineering alumni.

The STEM Symposium begins Friday afternoon in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. Alumni Chad Unrau, Houston, will speak at 1 p.m. (a change from the earlier schedule), and David Lynn Kaufman, Ann Arbor, Michigan, at 2 p.m. Alumnus Bill Schmidt, Rochester, Minnesota, will give the keynote address at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Ad Building chapel.

The Fall Festival theater production this year is the play Brooklyn Bridge by Melissa James Gibson, the heartwarming story of how a girl discovers connections and community in New York City.

The first performance is Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows Oct. 10, 3:30 p.m., and Oct. 11, 2 p.m., all in Krehbiel Auditorium. Tickets are on sale at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center during regular business hours or starting one hour before each performance, subject to availability, in the Luyken Fine Arts Center ticket office.

An artist reception for Bethel emeritus art faculty Gail Lutsch and Bob Regier will be Oct. 9 from 6–8 p.m. in the Regier Gallery area. Their exhibit of prints, pastels and jewelry is called “Recent Work.” The gallery is open Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday 2–4 p.m.

On Oct. 10, Fall Festival Fair Day, food and craft booths as well as exhibits by student, alumni and local organizations open beginning at 9 a.m. on and around the Green.

Instead of an “entertainment tent” this year, events are slated for the outdoor Prairie Sky Stage (with Memorial Hall as the rain contingency) starting off with student readings and a sneak preview of the Bethel literary magazine YAWP! fall issue, 9:30–10 a.m. The rest of the schedule is: 10–10:30 a.m., a cappella ensembles Open Road (men) and Woven (women); 10:30–10:50 a.m., Newton Community Children’s Choir; 11–11:30 a.m., McPherson Community Brass Ensemble, alumnus Jerry Toews, Goessel, conducting.

JazzFest begins on the Prairie Sky Stage at 11:30 a.m. with Newton High School Jazz, followed by Hesston High School Jazz at noon. Bethel student and faculty jazz groups and McPherson High School Jazz will fill out the rest of the schedule, through 2:30 p.m.

The biennial Low German program takes place at 10 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, with alumnus Willmar Harder, Buhler, sharing about Latin American Plautdietsche culture. A freewill offering will be taken to support Bethel College.

Participatory music includes Kindermusik at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (for children age 2–5 with an adult caregiver) in Room 140 of Luyken Fine Arts Center, and a hymn sing for all ages with the Bethel College Alumni Choir at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary of Bethel College Mennonite Church.

Kauffman Museum’s special event is a book launch for Museum Mysteries, which campers in last summer’s Uncle Carl’s Camps designed and illustrated, at 11 a.m. And look for the museum’s booth on the Green to learn about the “Bring Back the Buses” campaign.

Admission to the museum, including the special exhibit “Root for the Home Team: Building Community Through Sports,” is free throughout Fall Festival, Oct. 8–11.

Bethel College Academy for Performing Arts is sponsoring the 2nd Dart for Art fundraiser to support arts education. The 2-mile fun run/jog/walk starts in the Thresher Sports Complex at 9:30 a.m. Registration forms are available in Mojo’s and Thresher Shop, both in Schultz Student Center, or call BCAPA at 316-283-4902, e-mail

There are a number of athletic events on campus, starting at 9:30 a.m. with junior varsity volleyball vs. Tabor College in Thresher Gym. The varsity game against Tabor is at 11 a.m.

At 10 a.m. is the Bethel cross-country invitational on the course just north of the Mennonite Central Committee Central States building.

Women’s soccer plays at 1 p.m. and men’s soccer at 3:30 p.m. on Joe W. Goering Field vs. Southwestern College.

The homecoming football game pits Bethel against University of Saint Mary at 7 p.m. Bethel student-athletes will be recognized at 6:30 p.m., right before the game, on Joe W. Goering Field, and the homecoming king and queen crowned at halftime.

The popular Children’s Park, sponsored by the Parents Association, will again be just north of the Ad Building, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Jerry Toews will have his restored band organ from the late 1800s parked nearby, with performances taking place throughout the day.

The Saturday evening meal option is a tailgate barbecue catered by Bethel’s food service, Aladdin. Tickets must be purchased by the Oct. 2 deadline (adults $10, non-meal plan students $9, children 5–12 $6.50, children under 5 and Bethel students on the meal plan free).

For more details and a complete Fall Festival schedule, go to the Fall Festival page.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to

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