Come together, create wonder at Thurtene Carnival April 12-13

Theatre, dance, carnival rides, dog adoptions, poetry and a capella music are just some of the attractions to be featured at Thurtene Carnival, scheduled 11 a.m.-8 p.m. April 12-13 on the Washington University Danforth Campus.

The annual event will be staged on the North Brookings parking lot and is expected to draw some 120,000 people from the St. Louis area.

This year’s theme is “Come Together, Create the Wonder!” Sponsored by Sonic, America’s Drive-In, the event will benefit SSDN (formerly known as South Side Day Nursery), a low-income family resource and center for learning located in South St. Louis City.

The oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation, Thurtene is presented by members of Thurtene Junior Honorary, 13 juniors who bear responsibility for the continuation of the tradition. More than 50 student organizations participate in the event.

Admission is free, though tickets must be purchased for rides and some plays. The carnival will feature foods from barbeque and pizza to candy and ice cream.

“The Thurtene Carnival is a unique and wonderful event that has celebrated the diverse communities of Washington University and St. Louis for more than 100 years,” said Matthew Beckley, public relations co-chair of Thurtene.

Beckley added that Thurtene will expand on last year’s efforts to remain environmentally friendly.

“Thurtene recognizes that along with the fun of the carnival, there is a responsibility to our community and environment,” Beckley said. “We’re expanding our offering of Green Thurtene,” a group of programs designed to increase sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint of the carnival.

Green programs include locally purchased supplies, recycling stations for wood and food-service waste, use of water-based paints and tree planting.

Once again, the “Kids to the Carnival” initiative will provide buses to local schools and charities to enable more St. Louis children to attend the carnival.

The Black Repertory Theater Co. will return this year to present a play for children at 12:30 and 4 p.m. both days of the carnival. All shows are free and open to the public.

An enlarged stage will bring more community performance groups to campus that include the Ames Visual and Performing Arts School, an elementary magnet school located in North St. Louis, and America SCORES St. Louis, an affiliate of America SCORES, which provides a national model for youth development through a unique combination of soccer, poetry and community service. The Pikers and the Stereotypes, WUSTL a cappella groups, also will perform.

The first carnival was held May 9, 1907. It evolved from a circus to a vaudeville show in its early years. Rides appeared in 1914, when a freshman-powered merry-go-round was featured.

In 1935, after a few years off and some festivals in other forms, a revival of the carnival by the Thurtene Junior Honorary evolved into what now is known as Thurtene Carnival.

The week preceding the carnival, called “Lot Week,” receives recognition from the State of Missouri through an official declaration from the governor as “Thurtene Carnival Week.” During this week, students work around the clock raising facades and practicing plays.

This year, students are documenting both Lot Week and the carnival with time-lapse photography. “We wanted a dvd that we can hand to sponsors and use for promotional purposes,” Beckley said. “It will be amazing to see how fast we create the carnival and how quickly we take it down.”

Following tradition, at the conclusion of the carnival, the Thurtene Junior Honorary will present the Buckley Award for best construction of a façade and awards for best production, best food and best game booth.

Also to be awarded are the prestigious Chancellor’s Charity Cup for the highest donation to charity and the coveted Burmeister Cup for best overall participation in the carnival.

For more information, visit or call Matthew Beckley at 414-690-9742 or Gabrielle Brewer at 773-844-0012.