Nottingham Experienced: Freshers’ Fair from both sides of the table


Believe it or not, there’s more to do in Nottingham than lectures, clubbing and societies, and Impact is determined to experience as much of it as possible. From heated political rallies to teeth chattering ghost walks, we’ll be there. To start with we stay a little closer to home, as Sam and James explore Welcome Fair from both sides of the table.


Welcome Fair, formerly known as Freshers’ Fair: the great canvas wonderland where the pizza is free, the music is loud and the temperature is too damn high. As the aspirational among you join AIESEC, the alcoholics join Wine and Spirits Soc and BNOCs-in-waiting buy their sports memberships, spare a thought for those among us who are on the other side of the table. We are the society stalwarts who man the Freshers’ Fair for six hours a day, and this is our story.

Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail (remember that in your lectures kids) and that’s why Sunday evening was spent artfully velcroing posters, pictures and mementos to the two square metres of felt display that was dedicated to marketing the Real Ale Society. On Monday morning I took my seat, sales pitch rehearsed, and tried to look vaguely enticing to the swathes of Freshers who wandered past at a glacial pace.

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Successfully manning the Welcome Fair stall is a team sport and morale must be kept high in the lulls between meeting new people – explaining that yes, our society is a real hobby and that, no, you don’t hand over your money here. It’s a great feeling when you get a new member to join – as you hand out barcodes you can almost hear the depleted society coffers filling back up.

That feeling is topped only by getting more new members than your teammate, thereby confirming that you are, as you always suspected, an all-round better human being than they are. This is actually a terrible shame because I’m about as enticing to potential members as a hall roast dinner. My buddy Rob, a veritable babe-magnet apparently, had a considerably emptier sheet of stickers than me. You learn a lot about yourself on a stall at Welcome Fair. I learnt that I must look pretty unapproachable.

By the way though, to the rogue society who stole our tablecloth, I do have a very particular set of skills…

Sam Rigby


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Three years on from my own frantic Welcome Fair, and the huge white marquee was just as rammed with students – the level of enthusiasm was just as high, and my hangover was just as disturbing. We love you Week One.

The eclectic range of stalls present really is astounding, and manages to surprise me every year. With over 200 societies trying to brainwash poor innocent freshers into signing up, there truly is something for everyone. From Korfball to Quidditch, from Skydiving to Living History, to the unfortunately named BlowSoc – everything is here, and you can be part of it.

Freshers Fair offers more than just the chance to see all of the societies in one place though. Thankfully, Domino’s Pizza (the most important stall in the tent) was present – a relief indeed. One meagre slice of pizza and a handful of vouchers later, I was ready to tackle the vast ocean of people, bags and brochures.

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It really is overwhelming – it’s as cramped as a particularly busy Tunisian market, and just as stressful. On that note, the number of people attending even on the third day (and before midday, well done if this was you!) goes to prove just how popular, and thus useful, the Fair is. Although, seeing as it is supposedly a ‘Freshers’ Fair’, the number of other years present was rather impressive. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, students do seem to automatically gravitate towards free stuff.

My own personal highlight was the man promoting the Mango Card for the Indigo Bus Route. His dedication to the role of Mango Man was unwavering, and I think that we can all learn something from his exceptional level of enthusiasm. None of this stopped him looking like a first class wally, but at least he was a proud wally. I wish that argument worked with my tutors…

James Mason

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