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Barton College students will get a good taste of what Wilson has to offer at Welcome Back Barton Day Aug. 20.
“This much-anticipated gathering is held on center campus in the late afternoon on the first day of classes each fall semester to welcome new and returning students as well as faculty and staff,” said Kathy Daughety, director of public relations.
Barton and the Wilson Chamber of Commerce co-sponsor the event, and Wilson area businesses, restaurants and organizations secure vendor spots to introduce new and returning students to their services.
“Not only is this a great way to generate commerce,” said Ryan Simons, chamber president, “but I think it is also a welcome diversion during the first week of classes, to ease some of the stress and anxiety associated with it, but also to let the students know that there is a whole community that is standing beside them during their time at Barton.”
Simons expects between 75 and 100 vendors. “The offering tends to grow a little each year.”
Simons said the event’s big goal is to bolster familiarity.
“Of course, we want the campus community — particularly freshman and those new to Barton — to be familiar with the goods and services available right here in Wilson,” he said. “However, from the Chamber perspective, we also want our businesses familiar with the fact that the students, faculty and staff at Barton represent a critical mass of potential customers, volunteers, employees and advocates that they need to build relationships with.”
Daughety added that Welcome Back Barton Day is a perfect opportunity for the campus community to meet Wilsonians and learn about businesses, restaurants and organizations throughout the area.
“Students especially enjoy the music and the wide variety of food options, as well as the selection of freebies from restaurants, merchants and banks across the community.”
Students are always on the lookout for free T-shirts as well as food samples at the annual event that started more than 30 years ago.
“And, there are always great raffles to enter during this high-energy event,” Daughety added. “Barton students always list Welcome Back Barton Day as one of their favorite traditions of the year.”
The benefits of this event and the relationship between the school and Wilson community go beyond this one-day celebration.
“The contributions to our community by the Barton student body are immeasurable,” Simons said. “It’s not just that they represent a well-trained workforce pipeline, or that they are consumers of goods and services in our community, or even that they provide countless hours of volunteer service. It’s also the youthful vitality and diversity found on campus that adds to Wilson’s quality of life.
“When you add those things to a college administration with a demonstrated interest in seeing our community prosper, and a talented faculty whose expertise benefits more than just the students they teach, the [hometown] relationship has blossomed into one of the most important elements for moving Wilson forward.”