Droverstock 2023! (Photo Essay)

Dr. Wetherbee, one of the three singers for The Committee on the Faculty Band, serenaded his audience.

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

Wow, Droverstock was a whirlwind of various events clashing together and cramming USAO’s campus full of guests. Events were going on all-day long to ensure there was something for everyone. The Montmarte Chalk Art Festival started the day at 8 a.m. and Trivia Night in Dusty’s wrapped up a successful Droverstock around 8 p.m.

USAO closed the Oval earlier in the week to mark off squares for the artists. Beginning at 8 a.m., artists from all over the state came out to start their pieces. While walking around taking photos, a few of the artists told me they were from Maud schools, others from Chickasha High School, and a few USAO artists as well. It was mesmerizing to watch the artists slowly outline their pieces and then bring them to life. At around noon Jackie Knapp, Professor of Art and Coordinator of the Art Department, announced the winners across the three different categories.

While the artists worked on their pieces, USAO’s Admissions team brought almost 300 high school juniors to campus for Junior Day. This annual event invites students to tour campus, ask questions, and see what student life is like. The juniors got to ask college students questions at a panel in the Drover Fieldhouse, play a trivia game, attend a mock class lecture, and other events planned by the Admissions team.

USAO also invited students to campus to participate in various scholastic meets. These events took place in several of the campus’s buildings, including Davis Hall. Dr. J.C. Sanders, Professor of Physics and Director of Institutional Research, announced the winners shortly after the chalk art winners. This is the first year since 2020, when COVID-19 struck, that USAO has put on the scholastic meets.

To welcome visitors on to campus and show off USAO’s students’ skills, Jordan Vinyard, Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, and Freddy Baeza, Special Instructor of Art, allowed their Expanded Media class to commission various art pieces around campus. A few of the pieces are outside Nash Library, in the basement of Nash Library, on the second floor of Davis Hall, outside Davis Hall, and outside Troutt Hall. Guests swarmed inside or around the pieces all day, especially the interactive pieces like the box outside Nash Library.

After walking around looking at the art, guests started to get hungry and wandered over to the cluster of food trucks at the south end of the Oval. The Droverstock Planning Committee brought seven food trucks to campus, including A&J’s Sweets, Some Like It Tot, Rock Island Candy Co., Jungle Ice, Lyn’s Lumpia, The Urb Express, and Smokin’ Joes Pizza. The food trucks remained on campus until 3 p.m., and from there Sodexo took over to serve pulled pork and brisket sandwiches for dinner.

After filling up on tasty food, guests might have looked to the other activities within the Oval. Ultimate Frisbee games were going from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while 9-Square was played throughout the day by many. The Droverstock Planning Committee also brought several inflatables to campus, seemingly one of the favorites was a two-man dueling inflatable in the middle of the Oval. Surrounding this inflatable were several notable clubs and organizations, a few include the ASL club, USAO’s Student Government Association (SGA), USAO’s Student Activities Board (SAB), and PRISM.

Just south of the booth area, the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma Stage was built for several bands, a stand-up comedian, and the Life Raft Debate. The first band on the stage was the Tiger Scouts who sang from noon to 1 p.m. Following the first band was the Life Raft Debate, which was planned by Ashlin Tryczak. The debate was post-apocalypse and students acted as if there was one spot left on their ride to the new civilization. The twist? Students had to vote for one of the six professors to bring with them to start their new society. Each professor had three minutes to plead their case and had a one minute to rebuttal anyone else’s argument.

The six professors included Dr. Holly Hatfield, Assistant Professor of Economics, Dr. Abigail Caselli, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr. Nicholas Boyd, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. David Reed, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Dr. Ben Wetherbee, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Dr. James Finck, Professor of American History. The debate was commentated by Daniel Pool, Librarian and Emerging Technology Specialists, and the Devil’s Advocate was voiced by Katie Davis, Professor of Theatre Arts.

The debate got big cheers from the audience as Dr. Reed released his dog, Signus, into the crowd and raced around sharing pizza with guests. Another round of applause went up as Dr. Wetherbee promised the new society needed love songs, and then proceeded to serenade the audience. The biggest cheers came from when the professors dissed one another’s fields of study. Davis spoke last and tried to convince students that they should vote for none of the professors and instead leave everyone behind. QR codes were passed around the crowd to allow listeners to vote after all the debating was finished. Dr. Wetherbee won second and was given a life preserve as his prize, in hopes he could use it to float to the new society. The winner was Dr. Boyd, whose chemistry skills looked promising; he was awarded an oar and got to take a trip around the stage in a life raft, pulled by Halli Humphrey.

The debate was followed by Tedious and Brief, a three-person band from Nashville. The trio went through several songs, and dedicated their set to Luna, one student’s emotional service animal (ESA). Next, The Committee on the Faculty Band took the stage and was comprised of Dr. Wetherbee, his wife, and Dr. Chris Garneau, a former USAO professor. This group joked around with each other and the audience as they belted out the lyrics of a few popular and original songs. Next, Cady Wollenberg, a USAO alum, had the audience laughing with her stand-up comedy act. Finally Fox Royale, a band back by popular demand, took the stage. The four-man band closed out the night. While listening guests over the age of 21 years old had the chance to drink at the Beer Garden, which featured beverages from the Canadian River Brewing Co. and Shakespeare Wine Co.

The final event for the night was Trivia Night in Dusty’s, which featured five rounds of Kahoot. Students duked it out for a chance to win a 50” TV, a record player, a FitBit Versa 2, an Apple Watch, an air fryer, and more. The trivia rounds were intense and lasted until around 10:30 p.m.

All-in-all it was an extremely busy Droverstock and definitely one for the books! The chalk art is still available to see throughout the Oval, so if you haven’t seen it yet make sure to walk through. Who’s already counting down the days until next year’s Droverstock?


Emily Loughridge is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.