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The Carletonian

The making of the first-ever CaveFest:

The+CaveFest+poster%2C+from+the+CaveFest+Instagram.
The CaveFest poster, from the CaveFest Instagram.

This Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26 and 27, the Cave will be hosting a brand-new event called CaveFest. The event is essentially a festival where both professional and student bands will be playing throughout Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night. Will Prim ’25 is the main organizer of CaveFest and described the event as a “two day arts and music festival that is taking place all inside the Cave” and said that students can rely on the fact that there will be something happening at the Cave at any time. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Cave is a “student-run venue that’s beneath Evans [Hall].”

The festival, Prim said, “involves professional touring artists… Our headliners are Armand Hammer [from New York] and Papa Mbye [from the Twin Cities.]” He said there will be “plenty of other bands from the Midwest, student performers — bands and artists such as Queens of Comedy.” He added: “Little Joy is supporting the event and we’ll have free coffee at the event. It’s just an all encompassing event.”

“Nothing like this has really happened with the Cave,” Prim said on why he started CaveFest. As a booking manager with Nick Berry at the Cave, this has been something Prim has been wanting to do. “My role has mainly been in booking professional artists, where Nick’s role has been more so organizing with [student] organizations and clubs and their usage of the Cave.”

“The Cave as an institution, or something that’s become a part of people’s social schedules at Carleton seems to be on an upward trend, especially this Fall Term,” Prim said. Because of this, he said, CaveFest is a “rather ambitious manner to see how much we can do. How much can we pack into two days in the Cave?”

The planning process for CaveFest began many months ago, and has been extensive for Prim who met with the Student Activities Office (SAO) last term, along with the Budget Committee and Carleton Student Association’s Senate (CSA) to both approve and fund the event. “It’s expensive to have artists of a certain quality,” he said. Many of the meetings with SAO and CSA have also been to figure out the “legalities” of the event, and “what we can and cannot do in the space with an event like this.” Alongside this work, Prim has spent the last three months “coordinating with agents and bands through email.”

He credits Grace Esselman, assistant director of SAO and Lee Clark, director of SAO as having been “great and very helpful” throughout the planning process.

On the challenges he’s come across in planning the event, Prim said that figuring out what is and isn’t allowed at an event like CaveFest “was a bit hard.”

He said, “My initial goal was to have the Cave become somewhat of a marketplace… ’cause in the winter there’s less foot traffic going into Northfield, so less students supporting the local businesses around, so it’d be nice to have an indoor space where these different, more college-kid oriented businesses could set up for a bit.” 

“With that initial goal,” he said, “I ran into lots of bumps in the road in the sense that there’s lots of different legal ramifications … that I didn’t know existed [surrounding vending in a college space.] It was kind of a process of finding it out, seeing what we can do, and communicating these goals with [Esselman and Clark] who would then take that to the people who can make those decisions.”

His initial idea drew from the Cave’s original history as “the oldest student pub in the country.” Since then “the Cave lost their liquor license some time ago, and so it’s been a BYOB space, which is still very cool, but we wanted to see if we could have Imminent Brewery come in” and support their business through CaveFest. Prim hopes that if CaveFest continues on, it will continue to change and evolve, so that his idea of supporting Northfield’s local businesses through the event can take form.

Some other “bumps” he’s come across in planning CaveFest have been with having to “scramble a couple times to pull together the final lineup” of artists. “But I really do think it worked out in a beautiful way,” Prim said of the artists that will be featured at CaveFest.

He hopes that having this knowledge of how an event like CaveFest comes together “will make next year’s festival even better.”

CaveFest is an event that he hopes will continue “to evolve to have more voices involved in the process of finding artists.” He said he “[would] love for that to occur in the years coming” and that he hopes it becomes “a thing that people look forward to.”

“Because there’s never been a model for something like this before, it was hard to really figure out what to do,” Prim said. “It’s been a lot of learning as I go along.” He hopes that if the event is successful, that more people will become involved in planning it in the future. “A lot of it fell on me.” However, he also said, “It’s been very, very fun in certain ways because the potential for success is really a driving factor.”

On some of the pleasant experiences of putting CaveFest together, Prim said, “Working with [Esselman and Clark] has been really nice. They’ve been very supportive… I’ve gotten a lot of support from my friends and from people around campus.”

“That’s cool,” he said, “because I think there’s definitely a bit of nervousness that comes with trying to start a big new event, especially one that’s a bit of a risk.” He said that CaveFest has had a lot of the Cave’s budget go into it, as well as from CSA, but “I’m very positive. The support I’ve had from people who have been very understanding and curious and interested in this event has helped push through the anxiety of things not working.”

Prim’s main goal with the start of CaveFest is “to have something that continues on after I leave Carleton.” Because of this, he said that “hearing the support that people have, that people are looking forward to, has made me feel good about that idea of longevity. I’m hoping that those feelings are validated this weekend.”

In regard to this weekend’s event, Prim said that he’s very excited about the artists who will be featured. “The artists that are coming are really cool and it’s a very diverse group in terms of what genres are represented.” He wants to reiterate that, “The lineup that we have represents a lot of different groups who are… making music and art that’s really impactful and powerful and very intentional.” He’s excited to have artists who are young and “on the rise in their genres and fields.”

He’s also looking forward to having “a good group of student performers who are performing on Saturday afternoon.” He said, “That’ll be awesome because I love the idea of the Cave being a space that’s accessible by all people and able to be an outlet for different creatives on campus. So, I’m really excited to see what people have in store.”

Prim said that “I also love the idea too — as many people feel, the winter can be kind of a drag — of having an event that’s essentially all day. I like the idea of there being something that’s going on on campus that you can rely on, that you know will be there, and it’ll be indoors.” He hopes that CaveFest “will be a space where you can hang out with your friends, listen to good music and support your friends … I’m looking forward to that; I’m really hoping it’ll be a beautiful moment of people from all sides of campus coming together to listen and hang out with one another.”

Prim wants people to know that “the music will be good and that these are artists that are very passionate and intentional about what they are doing, and that this is a great event to support your friends and an artistic space on campus.”

“This is a place where people can come hang out and have fun, and that it’s for all people from all sides of campus to come and enjoy themselves,” he said of his intentions for both the festival and the Cave. “I really want the Cave to become more of a phenomenon. Not just for specific groups of people… something that everyone can find something they like from it… I’d love it if people keep giving it a thought… and finding music they really like.”

For Prim, “[The Cave] is not just my space, it’s our space… and I’m obsessed with that place. I love it so much. We’re incredibly lucky to have a space like the Cave… I just want it to continue for people to feel the love, as corny as that sounds.”

Will Prim looks forward to CaveFest’s evolution in many different ways, but ultimately is excited for its first iteration this weekend and the artists that will perform, saying that he thinks “we’re gonna start on a good note.”

This weekend, CaveFest’s doors will open at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and 12:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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About the Contributor
Cecilia Samadani, Features Editor
I'm a prospective English major and Middle East Studies minor. I love all things related to art whether that be writing, drawing, music or dance, and am an avid cat person. Cecilia '26 (she/her) was previously a Staff Writer.

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