Brock University’s biggest and messiest campus ritual has earned a top ranking in the list of Great Canadian Campus Traditions.
The annual Brock Grape Stomp – held each September – is ranked No. 2 out of nine traditions listed in the current edition of University Affairs, a magazine published by Universities Canada.
University Affairs editor Léo Charbonneau said Brock’s Grape Stomp is known throughout the country, thanks to its uniqueness and popularity.
“The University does a great job of promoting it each year,” he said. “It sounds like a fabulous activity for the students. It looks messy but it also looks like great fun.”
Last year nearly 1,000 students stomped grapes, slid through the pulp, laughed and got good and sticky as a way to revel in school spirit while celebrating Niagara’s identity.
“We bring in a metric tonne of grapes,” said co-founder Kristen Smith, Manager of Student and Community Outreach. “It is the messiest tradition on campus.”
Participants are purple and covered in grape juice and peels by the end of the event, which this year will be held Sept. 18 from noon to 1 p.m. in Jubilee Court.
When it all started in 2001, organizers dumped a half tonne of grapes on tarps and Brock staff made up most of the stompers, said co-founder Karen McAllister-Kenny, Director of Recreation Services.
These days, students sign up in droves.
McAllister-Kenny said the spectacle has become a rite of passage for Brock students.
“If you haven’t tried it, you should before you graduate,” she said. “Put it on your bucket list,”
Early on, Grape Stomp moved from a date in late fall to September, to coincide with the Niagara Wine Festival. It is now a highlight of the University’s Homecoming weekend.
“The whole campus comes out,” Smith said, noting it draws staff, faculty and alumni as well as students.
Charbonneau said Grape Stomp checks all the boxes of a great campus event, earning it a spot among the best in Canada.
“It’s great to promote these campus traditions,” he said, “and great for the University to foster student spirit and a sense of belonging.”
What: Grape Stomp
When: Sept. 18 from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Jubilee Court, Brock University
How: Register at experiencebu.brocku.ca
Cost: Free, but non-perishable food donations are encouraged