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Students break away from the books at CollegeFest

Mandy Miller
Students break away from the books at CollegeFest
(Photo: Mandy Miller)

Big Dee, a member of local rap group Chef Boyz, performs at CollegeFest 2012. (Mandy Miller photo)

Thousands of area college students crowded into the Hynes Convention Center to listen to live bands and gather up handfuls of giveaways during this year’s CollegeFest, a back-to-school event that featured live music, celebrity appearances and free goodies.

Artists like hip hop star Wale and local rap group Chef Boyz performed at the two-day festival, which attracted more than 17,000 college students.

“This event is special to me,” Chef Boyz member Bigg Dee said with a smile. “I started this journey two years ago. I really began to grow as an artist at Boston University, so to come here today and perform really means a lot.”

The event was hosted by actor/comedian Kel Mitchell. His manager, Clive Ennis, said that even though this was Mitchell’s first time at the event, he was thrilled to be there.

“He’s having a blast,” said Ennis. “He loves connecting with his fans and this has been a great way for him to just go out in the crowd and have some time with them.”

In addition to the live performances, contests and rows of vendors, the event featured local organizations looking to recruit volunteers.

First Night Boston, on the verge of celebrating its 37th anniversary, came to College Fest in search of students willing to assist with First Night Festival 2013.

Joyce Bishop, engagement manager for First Night, said that despite students’ jam-packed schedules, their passion for being a part of the community and recognizing the arts remains strong.

“Students love the (First Night) Festival,” she said. “Even though they are on a break from school during the event, they feel that rich connection it has to the community and really want to be a part of it. Being here gets them excited for what’s to come.”