A Timeline of VEISHEA History

With VEISHEA 2011 right around the corner (April 11-17), students are getting pumped up for campus' 90-year-old celebration of Iowa State.  Her Campus Iowa State did a little poking around in the past to bring you a timeline VEISHEA history.

Photo: A VEISHEA parade back in the 1920s, image property of Iowa State University Library Archives

1922:  Way back when Iowa State University was still Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, the college felt a need for an all-department celebration to unite the college.  (Apparently different colleges skipped classes for their own "unauthorized holidays."  College students skipping in the Roaring 20s?  Some things never change!)  General Engineering professor Frank Paine named VEISHEA using the first letters of the five colleges: V for Veterinary Medicine, E for Engineering, IS for Industrial Science, HE for Home Economics, IS for Industrial Science, HE for Home Economics and A for Agriculture.  The first VEISHEA events included a parade, Home Economics open house, horse show, sham battle, vaudeville performances by flappers and the selection of a VEISHEA queen.  The Charleston and Big Apple were popular dances.  And the parade floats were drawn by horses.

1923:  The second VEISHEA featured a musical that would be the predecessor of what we now call Stars Over VEISHEA.  (The musical wouldn't be performed on an outdoor stage until 1940.)  A "moving up" ceremony was also added into a the mix.  This was a mock graduation for each class to graduate to the next grade.  Freshman burned their red graduation caps in a huge bonfire to signify that they were about to be sophomores.  At a carnival held behind State Gym, military students rode horses and performed stunts while fortune tellers told futures and miniature campiniles were raffled off.

Photo: Moving Up Ceremony Bonfire in 1926, image property of Iowa State University Library Archives

1938:  The Queen of VEISHEA rode across Lake LaVerne in a gondola!

1939: The first Stars Over VEISHEA was presented.

1941:  Because of a lack of student interest and the tendency of students to go home on weekends, the VEISHEA committee voted to get rid of VEISHEA.  Luckily, the motion was withdrawn less than a week later.

1943-1945: During these war years, special war shows were presented during Stars Over VEISHEA rather than musicals or comedies.

1944:  Dormitory houses, fraternities and sororities competed in canoe races across Lake LaVerne.  Pledge paddles were used instead of canoe paddles.  Teams dressed up in costumes inspired by the theme selected for the races.

Photo: VEISHEA Parade 1947, image property of Iowa State University Library Archives

1950:  President Harry Truman lit the first VEISHEA torch in Ottumwa, Iowa.  The torch was then carried by 127 runners representing the 25 campus organizations all the way to Des Moines.  Then four Iowa State students and a mule named Frances carried it the rest of the 33 miles to Ames.

1958:  Actor Ronald Reagan was a guest speaker and the grand marshal of VEISHEA!

1963: Meredith Wilson, famous composer and writer, visited VEISHEA for the Stars Over VEISHEA presentation of "The Music Man."  And Vice President Lyndon Johnson lit the VEISHEA torch.

1967:  The first ever Governor's Run took place.  Members of Friley's Pearson House made a relay-style run from the steps of Beardshear Hall to the State Capitol Building in Des Moines to deliver a formal VEISHEA invitation to the governor.  On Monday morning, after an early meeting with the runners the ISU president sent them off with a hand-signed letter.  The runners divided the 30 miles along US Highway 69 from Ames to Des Moines.  After receiving the official invitation on the steps of the capitol, the governor would sign the baton as acceptance of the invitation.

Photo: Band performing in 1985 VEISHEA, image property of Iowa State University Library Archives

1988: The first of three VEISHEA riots happened on campus.

1992: Another riot occurred. Parents and alumni became worried about the future of VEISHEA.

1993: Hoping to control crowds and promote new entertainment, the first Taste of VEISHEA was held as a celebration of food and games.

1998: The first ever alcohol-free celebration of VEISHEA was marked with the slogan "A Time for Change."

2004: The third VEISHEA riot broke out, this time in Campustown instead of on campus.  ISU's President Geoffrey suspended VEISHEA 2005.

2005: No VEISHEA.

2006:  VEISHEA was reinstated!

2007: Iowa State celebrated its 150th Birthday with VEISHEA 2007.



Iowa State Alumni Association

*All images in this article belong to the Iowa State University Library Archives.