Thurtene Carnival April 12-13: Seek the Thrill, Enjoy the Ride!

At the University, all the signs of spring point in one direction — the annual Thurtene Carnival.

Running from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. April 12-13 on the Athletic Complex parking lot, the theme of this year’s carnival is “Seek the Thrill, Enjoy the Ride!”

This year’s event will feature six themed façades, designed and constructed by students, which will house student-performed plays.

Other Thurtene traditions will continue, including 18 major carnival rides, 16 game booths and 15 booths serving an array of tasty treats and ethnic edibles.

An anticipated 120,000 people will share the spirit of Thurtene this year.

The net proceeds will benefit Thurtene’s charity — Friends of Kids With Cancer, a St. Louis organization devoted to enriching the daily lives of children undergoing treatment for cancer and related blood disorders.

For the first time, there will be a Community Service Village at Thurtene. The village will allow attendees to create projects for the children that Friends of Kids With Cancer serves — such as beads for the kids in the hospitals and bandanas for them to wear.

The carnival is presented by members of the Thurtene Honorary, composed of 13 juniors who bear sole responsibility for carrying on the traditional event. Members are chosen on the basis of outstanding leadership, character and participation in University activities.

“It has been nothing less than an incredible experience working with the members of the honorary and other University students to make this carnival a complete success,” said Nathan Kleiner, a member of the honorary. “We are excited to bring together the Washington University and St. Louis communities.

“We’re really proud to be part of something that so many people look forward to every year.”

As has been tradition, the honorary will present awards on the Sunday of the event for best production, best set construction, best food and best game booth, as well as the Chancellor’s Charity Cup and the coveted Burmeister Cup for best overall participation in the carnival.

Thurtene Carnival, first conceptualized in 1904, is the University’s longest-running tradition. In fact, it’s the nation’s oldest and largest student-run carnival.

The first “Younivee Surrkuss,” Thurtene’s predecessor, was held in 1907. The seven-hour festival ran much like a real circus and featured sideshows and a main attraction.

General admission was 10 cents, sideshows were a nickel and proceeds were donated to the University’s athletic association. A crowd of 400 made the event a roaring success.

Nearly a century later, Thurtene Carnival still bears a resemblance to its ancestor. However, the “big top” has been replaced by sturdily constructed façades, and the crowd of 400 has swelled to a two-day throng of many thousands.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the administration as well as our alumni,” Kleiner said. “We encourage everyone to join us at the carnival. It’s going to be a wonderful event.”

No admission is charged, but tickets must be purchased for rides and plays. For more information, go online to