When I first posted on the DelGrads on MySpace page about Wilburfest and Skidfest years ago, I referred to them as the “Big Two” outdoor events. In response, Nick L, UD '05, decided to bust my balls a bit with, “The ‘Big Two’ are Wilbur and Skid?” and he posted the number of internet search results yielded for the PiKA events he coordinated, versus results for Wilburfest and Skidfest. Nick’s events were the clear winners.
But then upon writing this chapter, I actually looked at the search results Nick had posted…they were on Webshots.com. So, my counter to Nick: Dude. Of course you’re gonna find more results on Webshots for events that occurred solely in the digital age. Wilburfest and Skidfest were around for years (even decades) before anyone knew what a digital camera was, let alone the ability to post pics online. To further support my thesis, I submit that if you searched Webshots for pics from the original Woodstock, you’d find little or nothing. Would you then conclude that Piketoberfest was bigger than Woodstock?
Yes, I’m just busting Nick’s balls right back (did that sound gay?), but I do stand by that Wilburfest and Skidfest were indeed the Big Two, in terms of how many years they reach back, and how they paved the way for other fests.
Anyway, Nick totally understood how I wouldn’t have heard of his events, as they were ten years after I left UD. I asked him to write something up about them, to educate on what many of us missed; what Nick was able to organize was way impressive.
Digger's not alone in not having heard about them. The events were short-lived...and we may have ruined it for everybody else, but in 2004 and 2005, we had more students in a backyard on South Chapel, than attended most UD football games.
What started as a simple conversation over a bottle of Jack Daniels, "Hey, we need to raise some money for CAP points -- let's invite everyone over and charge $5 admission,” turned into, “How far can we push this?” And it turned into events with full production concerts from national touring bands, MTV reality stars, corporate sponsors, and a pack of security guards fueled by HGH and Grotto Pizza.
I was also proud of the fact that the Delaware State Police dedicated helicopter flybys to each of our events; helicopters were usually reserved for major sporting events or Homecomings, not backyard parties!
The events in '04 and '05 were attended by approximately 5000 students in total, multiple MTV personalities (Brad from the Real World San Diego, Bam Margera, April Margera, Don Vito, and some others from the Viva La Bam / Jackass crew), Grotto Pizza (who set up an 18-wheeler mobile pizza kitchen at 163 South Chapel, in the driveway), several U-Hauls filled with 30-packs of Milwaukee's Best (is there any other kind?), US Smokeless Tobacco (who set up a tent in the middle of the madness and gave away free Skoal to anyone who wanted it), Student City and Student One Promotions (free Spring Break trips), Trojan Condoms (who wanted their name plastered on the fence and the website), and there were also some other local Newark businesses that got a piece of the action.
You wouldn't think of these huge events as being "sold out," but they were. Tickets were so hard to come by that several people attempted to sneak in, over an eight-foot fence. Unfortunately for them, we hired ex-NFL football players and corrections officers as event security. Some were as big as 6' 9" and 300 plus pounds. One kid, who didn't have a ticket, attempted to climb a tree by the Rugby House property next door, and jump the fence. The only problem for him was when he got up in the tree, there was a monster of a security guard waiting for him on the other side. The kid decided to wait in the tree for at least an hour, because he was too scared to come down.
But the security guards were equal opportunity. One of our younger brothers who lived in another South Chapel house was a smaller kid. He was picked up and literally shot-putted over the eight-foot fence, for acting like a drunk asshole.
The bands that played Piketoberfest and the Luau included Jag Star (who was featured on MTV’s The Hills soundtrack and on the DVD for Season 1 of Laguna Beach), Burnt Sienna (the first opportunity for many of the under 21 crowd at UD to fall in love with a band that played the Balloon every month), The Poptart Monkeys (who, after playing the Luau, went on to open for bands like 3 Doors Down, Breaking Benjamin, Sum 41, and Alien Ant Farm), and The Martini Bros (who opened for Live on the Throwing Copper tour).
The UD administration was not a huge fan of these events. The death nail was the fact that the Luau was on High School Senior Decision Day. So, all of the high school seniors and their parents who drove by the South Chapel properties got to witness the madness…and see Bam Margera's infamous Hummer parked on the lawn. Sad, really.
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