. [ [ VEISHEA History] from the official 2006 media kit] VEISHEA is the largest student run festival in the nation, bringing in tens of thousands of visitors to the campus each year.

The name of the festival is an acronym for the colleges of the university that existed when the festival was founded in 1922:
*Veterinary Medicine
*Industrial Science
*Home Economics

As the colleges have since been changed, the Iowa State Daily considers it no longer an acronym, and spells it Veishea, with only the first letter capitalized. Official university paraphernalia regarding the event still puts it in full caps.

Beginning and history

In the early 1900s, the campus of what was then known as Iowa State College was host to multiple events in the spring, as each college celebrated its history and recruited prospective students by holding an individual celebration--such as the Ag Carnival, the Home Economists' "HEC Day," and the Engineers' St. Patrick's Day Parade. In 1922 it was decided that by combining the separate celebrations, it would be possible to preserve tradition without students taking time off from several consecutive weeks of class. Additionally, a large celebration would be a more effective advertisement for the university than several small celebrations. Professor Frank “Shorty” Paine conceptualized the name "VEISHEA" in order to allow the combined celebration to pay homage to each of the colleges and celebrations from which it was born. [cite news | url = | last = Grundmeier | first = Thomas | title = VEISHEA celebration large part of ISU history | date = April 24, 2007 | publisher = Iowa State Daily | language = English | accessdate = 2007-05-30 ]

VEISHEA is, and has been since its inception, a wholly student run event. The first VEISHEA Central Committee, led by Wallace McKee of the class of 1922 met in Beardshear Hall, since the Memorial Union (where student organization offices are currently housed) was not yet built. [cite news | url = | last = Grundmeier | first = Thomas | title = First VEISHEA traditions began 85 years ago | date = April 16, 2007 | publisher = Iowa State Daily | language = English | accessdate = 2007-05-30 ] After months of planning, the first VEISHEA was held May 11-13, 1922. The event managed to combine highlights of each college celebration into one showcase of the entire Iowa State College. Longstanding traditions which became part of VEISHEA included the May Queen pageant, the knighting of senior Engineering students into the Knights of the Order of St. Patrick, and the traditional vaudeville show of the Ag Carnival. Other events included 33 department open houses, a mock battle hosted by the ROTC, a parade themed “History of Iowa State as it is Today,” and the student written and performed “Nite Show,” titled “Scandals of 1922.” [ [ First VEISHEA] from the Iowa State Library’s special exhibits section]


Today, VEISHEA encompasses many of the same traditions and ideals embodied in the original 1922 celebration, as well as newer traditions focused on celebrating the Iowa State community. Some of these traditions include:

*VEISHEA Village – VEISHEA Saturday is host to open houses, a cultural festival, an international food fair, and carnival games for children (called Cy’s Big Top), all grouped under the banner of VEISHEA Village. Booths on campus include demonstrations of science and agriculture, refreshments, and entertainment. All together, over 80 departments, clubs, and student groups participate in VEISHEA Village each year.

*Stars Over VEISHEA – Originally a yearly student-written musical called the “Nite Show,” in 1930 the directors decided to transition to instead perform Broadway classics. The show was then moved outside to Clyde Willams field in 1939 and renamed Stars Over VEISHEA (or SOV). [ [ Stars Over VEISHEA] from the Iowa State Library’s special exhibits section] Recently, SOV became a joint production of VEISHEA and Iowa State Theatre, so the show is no longer produced and directed by students, but students still participate in all aspects of the show’s planning and performance. The SOV performance for 2008 will be “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” held in Iowa State’s Fisher Theatre.

*Parade – What began in 1922 as a parade of floats built by departmental clubs. [ [ Parade] from the Iowa State Library’s special exhibits section] has blossomed into one of the highlights of the VEISHEA celebration, with attendance estimates sometimes reaching as high as 75,000 people. [ [ Traditions] from the VEISHEA History section of the official website] The current manifestation of the parade includes balloons, student groups, marching bands, and dancers, as well as the traditional floats. The parade is led by the Grand Marshall, who is traditionally a distinguished guest. The Grand Marshall for the 2007 celebration was legendary wrestler and recent ISU coaching addition Cael Sanderson.

*Swans – In 1935, the VEISHEA Central Committee donated a pair of swans to Lake LaVerne, the lake at the base of the Memorial Union. After a naming contest, they were christened Lancelot and Elaine. [ [ Swans] from the Iowa State Library’s special exhibits section] More than 70 years later, Lancelot and Elaine (albeit different swans) continue to be a fixture on campus. For this reason, the swan is one of VEISHEA’s symbols, and is represented in the current VEISHEA logo.

*Cherry Pies – A tradition older than VEISHEA itself, the Division of Home Economics began selling cherry pies as a fundraiser in 1920. Now sponsored by the Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management, approximately 8,000 cherry pies are made and sold each year, with the money going to support departmental scholarships. [ [ Cherry Pies] from the Iowa State Library’s special exhibits section]

*Governor’s Run – Since 1967, members of Pearson House in Friley Hall have delivered the Iowa Governor’s invitation to VEISHEA in a relay run spanning 30 miles from ISU’s Beardshear Hall to the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. [ [ Traditions] from the VEISHEA History section of the official website]


In recent years, rioting and disturbances have tarnished the VEISHEA celebration. VEISHEA became an alcohol-free event in 1998 after a fatal stabbing the previous year. [ [ University Will Be Alcohol-Free During VEISHEA 1998: Jischke] ]

The latest incident occurred in 2004, when a riot broke out during the early morning hours of April 18. The riot began to form late in the evening when Ames police dispersed a group of about 400 people at an off-campus party on Hunt Street. The crowd was moved to Welch Avenue where it grew and intensified. Some speculate that due to a lack of coordination between University, Ames, and Story County police officers, people were entrapped on the first block of Welch Avenue. At around 12:30 AM, police began closing down nearby bars over an hour early. This resulted in many more people entering the street intoxicated, causing the crowd to grow to over 1,000 people. The stop light post on the corner of Lincoln Way and Welch in front of Copyworks was shaken violently until it fell into the intersection. A riot formed after police officers pepper sprayed and tear gassed the crowd. The students responded to the actions of the police by yelling and standing their ground. The police proceeded to deploy tear gas into the crowd and pepper sprayed anyone who was present. [ [ CNN Headline News Coverage] of the 2004 riots] The use of tear gas was so extensive that large clouds could be seen from a nearby dormitory, Friley Hall. The tear gas infiltrated the building disturbing many of the residents who were not already outside.

As the morning progressed rioters destroyed lampposts, parking meters, signs, and building windows and damaged police vehicles. Rolling dumpsters were also pushed down Lincoln Way and lit on fire (at least one of these dumpsters inadvertently rolled into a car parked along Lincoln Way). The resulting damage was estimated at $100,000 ( [ "Des Moines Register"] ). 38 arrests were made. In the end, some students were arrested, charged, and expelled from the university.

The 2004 riots marred what had been a very successful celebration. During the months following students and business owners reported inapproriate acts by the police. On April 27, ISU President Gregory Geoffroy announced that VEISHEA would not be held in 2005. This was met with disappointment both on and off campus. One man who had his business damaged had taken out a full page ad asking the school not to cancel the event. Other business leaders also were opposed to the cancellation, saying that it would result in a loss of sales from people not coming to the area. Following the cancellation Geoffroy also announced the formation of a task force to study the causes of the riots, with the results determining whether VEISHEA should continue after 2005.

This task force met and came to several conclusions. One was that the celebration needed to be held in a more controlled environment instead of on Welch Ave., which had been a flash point for violence in prior years. Another conclusion they reached was that the total alcohol ban may have had unintended consequences, such as encouraging the growth of large, off campus parties, and the school considered allowing some alcohol consumption by those of legal age under the school's normal alcohol policies. The task force also recommended that educational campaigns be held to ensure that students understood the relevant laws or the school's own regulations, and the consequences of violating the laws.

2005 marked the first time in 82 years that VEISHEA was not held. In place of VEISHEA a group called Leaders Inspiring Connections (LINC) at the school put on some events for students and faculty, some of which focused on community service. One such event was Operation Playground, in which volunteers placed new equipment in local playgrounds.

In March 2005, Iowa State announced that VEISHEA would return in 2006. Instead of being held on Welch Ave. - which had been problematic, the upcoming VEISHEA celebration would instead be held on the central campus. More events would be held later at night during VEISHEA. Geoffroy also decided that the event will be held under the normal policies regarding alcohol consumption instead of having a total alcohol ban.


In 2006, VEISHEA was held from April 17 through the 23rd. With the extensive planning and preparation taken by the more than 400 Iowa State students involved with VEISHEA as members of the VEISHEA Executive Board, VEISHEA Committees, or VEISHEA Aides, the weeklong celebration went off without a hitch. On the last night of the celebration, the close of the celebration passed peacefully - police recorded one arrest each for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, cited 10 underage people for being in possession of alcohol, and broke up two nuisance parties. A better prepared police force, and the movement of most events back to the University campus were among the reasons given for the event going so well in 2006.


VEISHEA 2007 was held during April from the 16th to the 22nd. Story of the Year, Mike Jones, Biz Markie, Saliva, Robert Kelly, and Chris Cagle performed at the celebration.Over the weekend, ISU police issued 91 alcohol-related citations. [cite news | url = | last = Moylan | first = Daniel | title = ISU Police issues 91 alcohol charges on weekend | date = April 24, 2007 | publisher = Iowa State Daily | language = English | accessdate = 2007-05-01 ]


VEISHEA 2008 was held from April 6, 2008 to April 13, 2008. Traditional events, such as the parade and VEISHEA Village were held, as well as a special ceremony closing Iowa State's 150th Celebration.

Late night entertainment went off without a hitch, and no significant crowd control problems occurred. New policies limiting the number of people who could attend the concerts and limiting such to those with a connection to Iowa State caused much dissatisfaction among students and VEISHEA goers alike. A heated debate ensued, resulting in many deciding to boycott the concerts altogether. Despite fears of yet another riot due to the new policies, the celebration was riot-free, albiet with a very limited attendance for the concerts.Bands performing included Saint Radar (free show),Anchond O,
Blessid Union of Souls, Bobby Valentino, Congress of A Crow,
Jamie O'Neal, the Mark Little Band, and Stanwood Charlie, with Eve 6 headlining. The shows were located between Howe Hall and the College of Design in the former marching band field, a smaller area than the previously location of Central Campus.


External links

* [ Official site for VEISHEA]
* [ Iowa State University Library special exhibits information on VEISHEA]
* [ Sesquicentennial kickoff and VEISHEA 2007 weekend] , "ISU's 150th Celebration"

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