GLASGOW – The aroma of fresh apple cider and caramel apples spread through the air outside the front entrance of Western Kentucky University-Glasgow on Tuesday.
Pumpkins were lined up on tables and on the ground adjacent to an assortment of colorful mums. Local farmers and vendors sat behind tables full of their produce and products.
As students, faculty, staff and community members walked in and out of the building, they were greeted by the Greentoppers, a student-led sustainability organization that hosted this fall festival.
Kaitlyn Burks, a junior at WKU and a member of the Greentoppers, sat at a table and recreated the face of Frankenstein's monster on a pumpkin to enter into the pumpkin-painting contest.
“We really emphasis buying local and being a more sustainable community,” Burks said. “I don't think a lot of people realize how important it is to buy local. There are a lot of farmers markets around and I think it's important to help out the community rather than help out the big corporations.”
Burks said she was inspired to join the Greentopppers while she was taking a class from Nicole Breazeale, an assistant professor of sociology at WKU-Glasgow and an advisor for the Greentoppers.
“She was very influential and opened my eyes about a lot of the aspects of a sustainable community,” Burks said.
Breazeale said their message “is all about how we can support our local economy and our local farmers as part also of a sustainability agenda.”
“So the other piece to learn from this is it's very easy to move in the direction toward sustainability,” she said. “It doesn't have to take a lot of work.
“One very easy way you can do that is by supporting farmers who are growing products here.”
Breazeale said this festival started in 2013 and that the students really look forward to it each year.
“They all are very excited about continuing this tradition and the relationship they form with local vendors,” she said. “And every year we keep adding on different little games and elements—like the caramel apples, that's new this year.
“We love that people bring their families, and you have students, administrators, faculty and community members all mixed together.
“That, to me, is the highlight of it, that you actually have an event that's bringing together all of those different groups.”
WKU-Glasgow Regional Chancellor Sally Ray said the Greentoppers do a really good job engaging with the local community.
“They recognize the value of local community development,” Ray said. “It's so important. Most of our students are from this region or from this community, so putting an emphasis on that is so important.
“That's one of the great things about a regional campus. We engage locally.”