As the school year commenced, Flagstaff experienced an influx of new students, many of whom are unfamiliar with the city. The Unions and Student Activities department at NAU offered these students an opportunity to learn more about the businesses and organizations in town at the 17th annual Welcome Week Community Fair on Aug. 8.

The fair took place along the pedway outside the University Union, allowing students who walked to class to make quick stops and browse through a variety of vendors.

Aly Wichmann, a student worker for the Student Activities department, said the purpose of the fair was to help students make connections within the community.

Molly Greenwald, the owner of Flagstaff Escape Space, was in attendance at the event and encouraged students to stop by her company's tent. Greenwald said she loves the community fair because it is a great way for students to determine which local organizations they might like to be a part of and what extracurricular activities to pursue.

"Students get bombarded with all the things that are around town," Greenwald said. "Things that they can participate in, services they can use and activities they get involved in."

Vendors are not the only ones that find the fair enjoyable and informative. Sophomore Mallory Rakowski was also in attendance at the fair, and said the time she spent there was beneficial.

"[The fair] creates a community for people to talk to each other if they notice they have similar interest," Rakowski said.

Many students also attended the fair to do some quick shopping. Warner's Nursery and Landscape Company was one of the vendors present at the event and sold plants to patrons out of a bus.

Some vendors at the fair attracted students by providing prizes to those who stopped by. Avail Tattoo Studio held a raffle for a free tattoo, and Flagstaff Escape Space gave away free laundry detergent.

Caity Evans, a marketing associate for Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, said she feels it is important for students to buy from Arizona-native businesses like hers.

"Always shop local," said Evans. "40% of your transaction stays in the state. That helps pay for educations, roads and essentially makes your community better."

Evans said her main goal in attending the fair was to welcome new students to Flagstaff.

Storm clouds rolled into the city as the fair came to a close, and some students left with new information and community connections.