December 19, 2008

Saluki Finals Finish draws record crowd

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- How much food can 4,000 hungry college students consume in just three evenings? When it’s the biggest crowd in the history of the Saluki Finals Finish at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the grand total is: 520 pounds of bananas, 290 pounds of apples, 240 pounds of carrots, 90 pounds of celery, 792 oranges, 126 feet of sub sandwiches, and 18 cases of little brownies and muffins.

That’s just for starters. They also downed 1,650 tacos and 2,312 slices of pizza. Then, of course, they needed 84 gallons of sport drink, 20 gallons of orange juice and a whopping 210 two-liter bottles of soda to go with all of that food.

“When you add it up, we served over a ton of food, literally!” Gary Tisdale, assistant director of publicity and marketing for Recreational Sports and Services, said with a laugh.

Throughout the three evenings of Dec. 7-9, the 10th annual Saluki Finals Finish drew 4,025 students to the Student Recreation Center for free food, giveaways, study, recreation time, fun and moral support.

Dozens of faculty and staff from all over the University volunteered to serve up the palate-pleasing chow to students. It’s a chance for students to see a different side of those who teach their classes and keep the University functioning.

There aren’t records for the inaugural Saluki Finals Finish in 1999 or the following year, but records for all subsequent years reveal that the 2008 event was the biggest ever. The previous high attendance, coming in 2007, was 3,554.

Everything is free at Saluki Finals Finish. For six hours each evening, students can gather to recharge bodies and minds in advance of their final exams. And, gather they did. The first night drew 941 students, with 1,457 attending the final night. The largest crowd, 1,627 in all, enjoyed the fest on Monday night, Dec. 8.

Back in 2001, the Saluki scholars chomped on 70 pounds of apples but this year needed 290 pounds. Likewise, 142 two-liter bottles of soda became 210 bottles and twice as much sports drink was chugged this year as was consumed in 2001.

Sponsors for the increasingly popular Saluki Finals Finish include the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Science, Applied Sciences and Arts, Engineering, Mass Communication and Media Arts, and Liberal Arts as well as Library Affairs, the Graduate School, School of Law and School of Medicine.