URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — Thousands of high school students from across the state are flocking to the University of Illinois this weekend.

It’s Theatre Fest weekend and students are seeing shows, going to workshops and auditioning for college programs.

Both U of I and Illinois State University students helped with the planning. Now, they’re scanning tickets, running classes and directing visitors around campus.

Laine Gamrath, a junior in U of I’s theater department and volunteer for the weekend, said coming back to campus early from winter break is worth it to help out.

“It’s really cool to see their eyes light up whenever they see a show or whenever they’re working on something. They’re really passionate about all of this,” Gamrath said. “Every high school in Illinois is invited to this so I think it’s just great for the university, community and for these kids to experience something outside of what they’ve grown up in.”

Gamrath said she attended as a high schooler and it’s a good perspective to now be on the other side helping with logistics behind the scenes.

U of I hasn’t hosted the event since pre-COVID in 2019.

Saturday is the last day of Theatre Fest. Next year, it’ll be on the ISU campus in Bloomington-Normal. It alternates each year.