Students attend Gobblerfest on September 5, 2014.

Anyone who has lived in Blacksburg knows that autumn in the foothills of Appalachia is one of the best parts of the year: The air turns crisp and cool, the skies a forget-me-not blue and the famous greenery blazes red, orange and gold as the leaves shed their skin. Our small town is transformed into a vivid panorama of colors, resembling a scene from a Hallmark feature.

However, do not mistake “quaint” for “quiet” — Blacksburg is a college town, and campus is always bustling with activities, especially during these months. The defining event of fall semester here at Virginia Tech is called Gobblerfest. Initiated in fall of 2008, it is an annual festival and welcoming event for students, faculty and members of the Blacksburg community.

The event usually takes place in early September, and is hard to miss: It spans across the entire Drillfield, which is dotted with colorful tents representing different organizations and vendors on campus and in the town of Blacksburg.

Though seemingly modeled after Germany’s traditional Oktoberfest, Gobblerfest trades beer and bratwurst for booths and brochures. It hosts student organizations, local businesses, nonprofits and many Virginia Tech departments. If you ever attended an activities fair in high school, you can think of Gobblerfest as analogous to those. It is an opportunity to explore various clubs and other campus organizations, especially if you are trying to get a head start on extracurriculars or volunteer work.

However, Gobblerfest is so much more than an activities fair: Not only is it a great way to meet new people with similar interests, it is also a place to connect with the Virginia Tech community. After all, this is a huge school, and finding common ground among your peers can make it seem a little smaller and less overwhelming.

Gobblerfest is very engaging, and in many ways comparable to a carnival or county fair. The event — which is free of admission — features plenty of food, games, live music and entertainment. Last fall, for example, there were performances from student-run dance ensembles. The event also offers tons of freebies like T-shirts, stickers, pens, lanyards and even portable chargers from the many organizations vying for recruitment.

I first attended Gobblerfest as a timid, crowd-averse freshman who was initially reluctant to go. However, I came to Virginia Tech wanting to continue my involvement in student journalism, and I figured this event would be a good place to start. Funnily enough, almost a year after braving the crowds, I am writing this piece and working on the editorial staff of a newspaper whose booth I was at first scared to walk up to. It just goes to show the doors you can open when opportunity knocks.

Read all of Tech Fundamentals here.

Neha is a senior studying neuroscience and psychology. When she's not in the newsroom, she is probably napping or watching New Girl.