Bruce Street, a thoroughfare through the University of Central Arkansas campus, was the site of Conway Daze Wednesday night, a student-oriented event resembling Conway’s Toad Suck Daze.

More than 30 local vendors including banks, restaurants, retailers and organizations lined booths in a tailgate fashion on the street, hoping to catch the attention of passing students, families and faculty associated with the university.

Lindsay Grifford, director of new student programs at UCA, said 70 campus organizations also were represented with give-aways, membership sign-up and information opportunities at booths in the south football practice field. 

Students were greeted with restaurant gift certificates, free food, live music and games.
UCA’s ROTC and the National Guard also provided a rock-climbing wall for students.

This was the inaugural year for the mini-festival, Grifford said, and it will continue to act as a culmination of UCA’s welcome week and an opportunity for new residents to become familiar with the community beyond the school.

“We wanted to connect new students. During this week of orientation, we’ve been showing them our campus, where the dining hall and academic buildings are, but we thought we ought to connect them with the Conway community. We sat down and worked with the Conway Chamber to create Conway Daze, a play off of Toad Suck Daze,” Jeff Pitchford, vice president of communications, said. “Some may use the opportunity to set up a local checking account, or if they’re not familiar with Conway and they’d like to know about our restaurants and what’s available here, this was their chance to see what’s offered.”

Grifford worked the event in dual capacities, as she will soon be an employee of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This was a play on words of Toad Suck Daze, a huge part of Conway. UCA is also a huge part of Conway. As we progress in years, we’ll get a bigger following for Conway Daze, with upper classmen and more businesses and faculty,” Grifford said.

To rally students for the beginning of classes at 8 a.m. today, a back-to-school pep rally was held at the Estes Stadium, as well as a scrimmage football game.

“Students came out and learned about the business nature of the community, and also to have a good time because classes start (today). They’ve got to get after it tomorrow,” Pitchford said.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)