Ye Olde ‘Wayzgoose’ Festival

By Taylor Weik
Staff Writer

I remember everything about the first time I attended Wayzgoose as a high school senior last spring. My mom walked into my room, flipped on the lights, and chirped brightly, “Wake up! We’re leaving for UCI in half an hour.” I moaned and sleepily turned to look at my digital clock: 9 a.m.. High school seniors don’t wake up earlier than noon on weekends. Needless to say, I was reluctant to go to Wayzgoose. It sounded like another boring information fair for a college I wasn’t even sure I wanted to spend the next four years of my life at. But when I came home that evening, I personally thanked my mom for dragging me out of bed for Wayzgoose.

Wayzgoose is UCI’s oldest, and in some ways, most cherished annual tradition Established in 1972, Wayzgoose originally was a medieval fair (“wasegoose” is Middle English for “harvest goose,” a bird commonly eaten at harvest time in celebration during medieval times), but it has now been combined with the Earth Day celebration and the Annual Car Show to form what we now call Celebrate UCI. What was planned as a simple goal — to encourage school spirit and promote social life on campus — has now blossomed into a festival of entertainment, food and campus involvement, and it serves current students and prospective students (and their parents) alike.

Now in its 40th year running, there are more than 130 organizations involved. Wayzgoose is essentially UCI’s open house, which takes place in the middle of Aldrich Park, which is appropriate considering UCI was built around the park. On-campus organizations and Greek Row have booths lined up along the road; neon signs advertise the perks of membership; and club representatives offer everything from boba to Korean barbecue to entice the wandering students.
To add to the festivities, UCI’s own police department has been holding their annual car show since 1999, and the alumni have paid to provide their own beer garden. An expansive stage set in the middle of the park provides the entertainment: performances by UCI’s famed dance crews as well as its various cultural performance groups. Carnival-themed rides and petting zoos make Wayzgoose an event for the whole family, including younger brothers and sisters, while academic and financial informational sessions are held for curious parents. Even parking is free on this rare Saturday when the campus is packed and busy with students.

I had a few older friends who attended UCI, and all of them have agreed on one thing: the campus is dead on the weekends because it’s considered a commuter school. But as I dragged my feet and complained to my mom (the usual “Why are we even here?” and “When can we leave?”), Aldrich Park came into view and I was stunned. All I could see for miles ahead were people — college people. I instantly fell in love with the college-like vibe Wayzgoose emitted into the spring air. The whole fair was the kind of organized chaos I craved for: club members yelling over each other; clumps of hopeful students lingering at tables that showed off glimmering Greek signs I couldn’t even recognize, let alone pronounce; and people simply stretching out on the green, eating lunch while catching up on some studying for a quiz the following Monday. UC Irvine was alive, and after observing the surroundings and taking note of a few organizations I’d want to be active in, I realized I wanted to be a part of UCI.

Wayzgoose has proven itself to be a special event that is sure to please everyone: from exotic food from around the world to inflatable slides to campus and dorm tour. This weekend extravaganza offers something all age groups can enjoy, and it has come a long way from its humble beginnings. With the changes our society has thrown at us over the years, UC Irvine has instantly made the adaptations needed that have molded Wayzgoose into what it is today. The magic of the tradition that is held on Wayzgoose weekend will continue to entice generations of students such as ourselves into choosing UC Irvine.