Mega Fair will not have arts performances this year


Photo provided by Aidan McKeon

Aidan McKeon and his a cappella group will not perform at this year’s Mega Fair. From left to right: Kyle Baesman, Brandon Small, Ben Cappella, Aidan McKeon and Connor Zielinksi.

By Grace Callahan

For decades, the Miami University Mega Fair tradition has invited more than 600 student organizations to showcase student talent and recruit new members at the beginning of the fall semester. 

That tradition is now showing some stress fractures.

The 2020 Mega Fair was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event usually takes place in the field outside of the Recreation Center or in Central Quad. This year, the event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29 and will take place in three separate locations: The Academic Quad, Slant Walk and the Seal. 

Due to this location change, Miami did not invite the university’s performing arts organizations to perform at Mega Fair. Thus, singing, dancing and other performance groups will be unable to physically represent their art forms to prospective members. 

In an email sent to performing arts student leaders, the assistant director of student activities, J.S. Bragg wrote, “For safety restrictions we have to stretch Mega Fair…There is no good space for a stage or performances where they would be seen by more than a few people at a time.”

Being told they could not show off their talents was a great disappointment for leaders of the  performing arts. Aidan McKeon, a Miami senior and music director of the a cappella group, Soul2Soul, wrote back to Bragg with a passionate response, calling for a reversal of this decision.

“It is clear to me that this Mega Fair change could have been avoided had someone spoken up for the importance of the arts at Miami and worked to engage students to find a creative solution,” McKeon wrote.

Student performers were on-stage in this photo, showing the crowd at the 2018 Mega Fair. Photo by Miami University

McKeon pointed out his frustration with the timing of this decision in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it’s posed to performing arts organizations. 

“We are entering yet another year essentially being thrown to the wolves and making our own opportunities, lacking any institutional support and following arbitrary and unclear regulations in order to avoid being sanctioned,” wrote McKeon. 

In a response to McKeon, the university wrote back, saying: ”We tried to find a way to get a stage at the event with where we are holding the event, but realistically, there was no good place as the event is in three distinct locations.”

McKeon was not satisfied with this response.

“Something else definitely could have been done and it’s sad that no one apparently was there to fight for the importance of live performance as a part of Mega Fair,” he said.

Although McKeon is disappointed with the decision to exclude student performances from the Mega Fair tradition, he said having Mega Fair in person this year rather than virtually, will be a help in recruiting new members to all of the student groups. 

“It’s unfortunate that when we had an opportunity to perform in person, safely, they didn’t let us for hazy reasons. But, I am confident that the presence of students at Mega Fair will help so much. We’ll continue to be creative and have successful recruitment just as we have for the past 18 months.”

In place of Mega Fair performances, McKeon’s group, Soul2Soul, plans to utilize social media to showcase its singing talents through videos of past performances.