Wolffest sets new earning, volunteer records
Though the numbers on total earnings are still rolling in, the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship’s annual Wolffest came to a record-setting end Thursday, raising more than $315,000 over the course of the three-day food festival, organizers said.
Each year, Wolff Center students divide into teams and reach out to Houston eateries to cater at Wolffest, which is held each spring in Butler Plaza. The festival is designed students real-world negotiation practice with local businesses, and all funds raised through the event go toward Wolff Center scholarships.
“It’s chaotic, energetic and super fun being able to interact with so many different people on campus,” said marketing junior and Wolffest volunteer Ruben Tang.
In 2018, Wolffest broke all previous records by bringing in $315,000. This year’s earnings have already surpassed that number, said Melissa Munoz, the program manager for the Wolff Center class of 2019.
The festival raised $333,000 through business donations and sales on Tuesday alone — the first day of the event. Munoz said it can take a while to count all the money, and the final earnings will not be confirmed until next week.
Wolff Center students are hopeful that number will reach $400,000, the goal they set for this year.
“We’re anticipating 50K more than last year,” said engineering sophomore and Wolffest volunteer Surbhi Gupta.
Tang said a single business donated $50,000 the last day of 2018’s Wolffest, so he was hopeful the 2019 festival would reach its goal.
“Fingers crossed that it happens again,” Tang said.
Wolffest offered a wide variety of vendors that offered crawfish, wings, barbecue, snow cones and more.
“The variety is really good, they have something for everyone,” said English literature senior Pavel Petrov.
Petrov said given how many people he saw at the event, he thinks Wolffest will be just as successful as last year, if not more so.
“I didn’t expect crawfish to be here, it was a good surprise,” said computer science junior Jose Garcia. “There is so much good stuff.”
Andrew Gonzales, owner of Tejas Mexi-Q, said he very much enjoyed his time at Wolffest. Gonzales caters for the Wolff Center often and thought of this as a way to give back to the students.
“The Wolff Center supports my food, so being able to give back to them means a lot to me,” Gonzales said. “The reason I am here today is to give back to them.”
Gonzales said students at Wolffest were very excited and loved his food.
Wolffest was originally called Burgerfest when it started in 2002 and eventually changed its name to match the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship after Melvyn and Cyvia Wolff became donors.
It started as a way for students to practice their sales skills as well as teach them how to run a business. While Wolff Center students still run the stalls and market to passing students, Wolffest now also revolves around business negotiation.
“It’s an educational experience that you could never get in a classroom,” Tang said. “It’s not a mock simulation. This is real life application, and it’s really rewarding.”
Tayler Banes, a Wolff Center alumna, returned to Wolffest this year to experience it as a customer for the first time.
“I wanted to see if they did better than us in terms of set up and operations,” Banes said.
Banes said each year, the class running Wolffest does better than the class before it, and she hoped this year was no exception.
“It’s hard work, selling food outside for three days straight,” Banes said. “You’re managing about 100 people and volunteers.”
Wolffest this year had about 70 students running the event, with 246 students volunteering on top of that. Munoz said this was the most volunteers the festival has had yet.
“I’m exhausted, I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m sunburnt, but it’s worth it,” Tang said.