Thurtene Carnival: ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’

Oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation this weekend

Searching for a great way to celebrate with your family the arrival of warm weather to the St. Louis area? Look no further than the annual Thurtene Carnival, happening this weekend on Washington University’s Danforth Campus.

With Brookings Hall in the background, senior Seth Caplan prepares a table saw to work on the Kappa Sigma and Kappa Kappa Gamma facade for the annual Thurtene Carnival.

Thurtene, which features carnival rides, games, food, theater, dance and music, runs from 4-7:30 p.m. Friday, April 23, and 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25. Admission is free, though tickets must be purchased for rides and some plays. The carnival will feature foods from barbecue and pizza to candy and ice cream.

More than 80,000 people are expected to attend, making Thurtene the oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation.

“What makes Thurtene so special is the reach it has in bringing together both the Washington University and St. Louis communities,” said junior Nick Crnkovich, co-chair of public relations for this year’s event. “A vast majority of those who attend the carnival are families who enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere as the result of an overwhelming effort on behalf of the students.

“From the amazing facades they build to house their wonderful productions to the various game and food booths they run, students spend countless hours throughout the course of the school year to make Thurtene Carnival more than just a garden-variety festival,” Crnkovich said.

This year’s event, themed “Choose Your Own Adventure,” will be held on the grassy median in front of Brookings Hall. As is the tradition, net proceeds from Thurtene Carnival go to a designated charity and this year the recipient is the Family Resource Center of St. Louis. The Family Resource Center’s mission is to prevent and treat all forms of child abuse and neglect by strengthening families through family-centered therapeutic, educational and support services.

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.

Thurtene was formed in 1904 as a secret society of men chosen for their leadership, character and participation in campus activities. 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.

Following tradition, at the conclusion of the carnival, the Thurtene Junior Honorary will present the Buckley Award for best construction of a facade 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.

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