Cornstock, a Concordia tradition since 1989, is a highlight of the academic year for both those who attend and those who work behind the scenes.
Cornstock is Concordia’s annual end-of-the-year concert, a take on the legendary 1969 event, Woodstock. In its early years, Cornstock was a daylong affair on Olin Hill and featured mainly local artists. In the 2000s, it transformed into the event that Cobbers now wait all year for: an evening concert in Memorial Auditorium, featuring one or two bands as well as a student opener. Some notable acts throughout the years include Semisonic, Run DMC, Plain White T’s, OK Go and Hoodie Allen. This year’s line-up featured My Body Sings Electric, PJ, MKTO and student band 60/40.
Behind the scenes of this Cobber-favorite event is Concordia’s Campus Entertainment Commission, or CEC.
Garrett Horejsi ’17 joined CEC when he was a freshman. This year, he was appointed to the role of Lead Commissioner, overseeing the eight-person commissioner team and CEC’s other 30-some committee members. When it comes to Cornstock, Horejsi is in charge of all “big picture” things – making sure all jobs are covered and acting as a liaison between CEC and their faculty advisor, Brent Johnson of the Office of Student Engagement, and their middle agent, Lance Hughes – as well as acting as a point-person for the performers.
Horejsi's job started long before the day of Cornstock; CEC begins planning the event in November. Each year, their first job is to find a headliner. They begin with a list of about 700 to 1,500 names, which they eventually narrow down to 10. They then send this list to Hughes.
“Then we wait very impatiently,” Horejsi says.
Hughes speaks to the artists’ agencies, exchanging offers and drafting contracts. This process can last weeks to months; if no one on CEC’s top 10 list accepts their offer, they have to create a new list from scratch. Despite the frustration this can cause, Horejsi appreciates the experience.
“I’ve learned so much about the industry,” he says. “It’s been so interesting.”
After a headliner has accepted their contract, CEC can start looking for openers. One of these is a student act, selected through a Battle of the Bands earlier in the spring. In recent years there has been only one additional celebrity opener; this year, CEC added a second. Horejsi has been throwing around this idea since is first year at Concordia, in the hope of bringing Cornstock closer to its original format as an all-day event.
Once artists have been booked and event planning has begun, CEC must begin advertising the event to students. For the past two years, this duty has been delegated to Morgan Schleif ’16, CEC’s publicity commissioner.
“I had to start developing a brand for Cornstock,” Schleif says. She wanted to create a logo that was easily recognizable and evoked the spirit of the event. “I thought, ‘what does Cornstock mean to me?' For me as a senior, Cornstock means the end of everything at Concordia,” she says.
She then had to tailor this idea to suit the entire student body. “There’s so much going on for everyone,” she says. “But still the entire student body comes together, takes off all day Saturday, and just goes to this event as a celebration.”
The logo Schleif came up with was part clock, part record player and part bell tower, accompanied by the logo, “Stop the Clock, it’s Cornstock.” While Schleif did create the logo to appeal to students in all years, she left a hidden message for her fellow seniors in the numbers of the clock:
“We have been Cobbers for 45 months, 192 weeks, 1523 days, taken 128 credits, had 32 classes, and this is our last time to celebrate. Stop the clock, it’s Cornstock.”
Schleif then used this logo to design posters, T-shirts and a social media campaign. She also used other marketing techniques, like the “10 Days of Cornstock” letter scavenger hunt and a sunglasses giveaway for the first 200 students through the door.
Planning and executing an event as large as Cornstock is not an easy task, but Horejsi and Schleif agree that this year’s event was one of the safest, smoothest and most successful they had ever been a part of. They also agree that they would not have been able to pull it off without the dedication and enthusiasm of their committee.
“Every artist brings different challenges, every team brings different challenges, every group of students brings different challenges,” Horejsi says. “The biggest thing is getting a committee who is willing to work, and this year they were. Our artists were also really easy to work with.”
We have been Cobbers for 45 months, 192 weeks, 1523 days, taken 128 credits, had 32 classes, and this is our last time to celebrate. – Morgan Schleif '16
Despite the amount of work they had to get done, both Horejsi and Schleif were able to enjoy the event.
“I’m in the best seat in the house,” Schleif says. “I’m in the barricade taking photos, so I get all of the noise and all of the music. Having all of that energy wrapped around me, it’s a lot because I’m busy doing stuff, but it’s such an honor because I get to document something that everyone is so excited about.”
Between delegating jobs and running back and forth between ticket tables and green rooms, Horejsi took a few minutes to stand off to the side of Memorial and just watch the event happen.
“It was so cool not only to be able to be proud of the work our committee has done … but also to be proud of Concordia students as a whole,” he says. “Concordia students are so busy and it’s the Saturday before finals, but everyone comes together for this Concordia tradition. Everyone just kind of lets everything go away because its Cornstock day.”
Now that Cornstock 2016 is in the books, CEC can take a break and focus on work and enjoying their summer. In just a few months, they will begin again.
Photos: Morgan Schleif
Katie Beedy '18 is a communication studies and multimedia journalism double major.