For the 26th year in a row, hundreds of student groups gathered at the Peace Quad on Saturday to celebrate the start of the academic year and recuit new members.

This year, University Fest featured local vendors, giveaways, inflatables, a dog parade and more than 200 student organizations, allowing new and returning students to catch a glimpse of the different clubs and groups the University has to offer.

Nicholas Erb, president of the a cappella group Treblemakers and a junior majoring in business administration, said University Fest enables students to explore their interests and interact with people from various organizations.

“[University Fest] is an incredible opportunity to familiarize yourself with different clubs, whether they be for the arts, for your particular major or just something fun to do,” Erb said. “It is so important to involve yourself in at least one club on campus. It’s a great opportunity to make friends, meet new people and have something to do that is fun for you.”

And for returning students and the organizations they run, the event is an opportunity to grow. Shannon O’Rourke, lighting director for Binghamton Sound, Staging and Lighting (BSSL) and a senior majoring in theatre, said her club recruits new members every year at the event.

“This is where we get everyone,” O’Rourke said. “We’ve had around 200 people sign up so far. Being a part of BSSL has been amazing — I would not trade it for anything.”

Part of University Fest’s charm is its simplicity. Student groups don’t have to worry about fighting for table space or working out complicated reservation instructions. Instead, the Student Association (SA) plans the event for various clubs and organizations, providing advertising and tables.

“Being president of the Treblemakers, coordinating tables and other essentials for University Fest is simple, because the SA makes sure to work everything out for you,” Erb said. “They are extremely helpful in helping you advertise your campus organization. All we have to do is tell them what items we need, and they can supply it for us.”

Callie Sacks, assistant musical director and business manager of the a cappella group Binghamton Vibrations and a junior double-majoring in psychology and philosophy, politics and law, said University Fest also gives her the chance to share her enthusiasm about what her organization and the University has to offer.

“I love [University Fest],” Sacks said. “It’s such a great way to meet all of the freshmen, and I love talking to people about the club that I am so passionate about.”

She also said the event helped her get to where she is today. Earlier in her college career, Sacks heard about the Binghamton Vibrations from a friend and was excited to attend University Fest and meet members of the group, which helped her decide to join.

“Personally, I found out about the Vibes from a high school friend of mine,” Sacks said. “I still came to see them at [University Fest] anyway, and it definitely allowed me to meet a bunch of the members of the group and helped me decide for certain that I wanted to be a Vibe.”