CougFest kicks off Student Entertainment Board’s 20th anniversary

A concert at night on Terrell Mall.
Terrell Mall is the venue for many concerts as SEB works to bring entertainment to the heart of the Pullman campus.

When Tim Hogg was a Washington State University Pullman student 20 years ago, he thought that the various ASWSU entertainment committees did not have enough money to bring notable artists to the Palouse. He reasoned if all the committees banded together and combined their budgets, they could attract bigger artists, sell more tickets, and engage more students in campus entertainment.

Though met with skepticism at first, the idea led to the formation of the Student Entertainment Board (SEB), which this fall is celebrating two decades of providing the Pullman community with dynamic and accessible entertainment programs.

“The idea spurred a lot of politics and trepidation, especially among WSU staff, but I’m happy we were allowed to go forth with the experiment,” said Hogg, who served as one of SEB’s first co-directors. “I’m just glad it worked because we wouldn’t be celebrating SEB’s 20th anniversary if it hadn’t.”

One of the SEB’s annual programs is CougFest, which is held each fall to celebrate the start of a new academic year. This year it will also help honor SEB’s 20th anniversary when it takes place on Wed., Sept. 6, on the Thompson Flats, and the entire WSU community is invited to attend. The free event will start with lawn games at 3 p.m., five bands will perform throughout the afternoon and evening, and for the first time a beer garden will be available starting at 5 p.m.

The following day at 4:30 p.m., SEB will open a special public exhibition in the CUB Gallery that will feature posters and other materials from SEB events of the past 20 years. 

“We wanted to expand CougFest this year so it could be a great kick-off to SEB’s anniversary,” said Brian Shuffield, executive director of Student Engagement Services. “The event has never been bigger, and many SEB alumni are coming back to be a part of it.”

Among the SEB alumni returning for CougFest is Hogg, who now works as a project manager for EvergreenHealth in the Seattle area. As a student at WSU, Hogg chaired the films committee and worked closely with the concerts committee. 

Sierra Horon, SEB’s current concerts programmer, is looking forward to meeting Hogg and other SEB alums who laid the groundwork for what has been a successful organization.

“I think the idea they had to form SEB was genius,” said Horon. “All of us on the SEB board bring something different to the table, enjoy collaborating, and share a passion for entertainment.”

Gaining experience for their careers

Today, SEB encompasses nine different committees: arts, concerts, films, gallery, marketing, speakers, special events, spotlight, and Up All Night.

Shuffield, whose first job at WSU was advising SEB just two years after it formed, has always been impressed with the number, breadth, and quality of events SEB organizes. Not only do the events provide entertainment to the WSU community, but the valuable experience and skills student organizers gain in planning them provides a boost in their professional careers.

“SEB students fully take the reins in organizing and implementing some very extraordinary events for the student body,” Shuffield said. “It has been special for me to see the evolution and growth of the organization.”

For Horon, who wants to someday be a talent agent, being able to meet and work with bands and their managers has allowed her to form a professional network that will prove valuable when she graduates from WSU this summer. 

“I love music and find the music industry so fascinating,” Horon said. “SEB helped me find that dream for myself.”

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