‘Stay Enchanted’ at annual Thurtene Carnival

This year’s student-led event April 19-21 benefits Provident

Fairgoers enjoy last year’s Thurtene Carnival on the WUSTL campus. (Credit: Jenn SIlverberg)

The nation’s oldest and largest student-run carnival gets under way later this month.

The event is a fun way to bring together students, faculty and staff from Washington University in St. Louis with the university’s neighbors and the greater St. Louis community for a weekend filled with rides, carnival fare, a rock-climbing wall and family friendly plays. More than 80,000 people are expected to attend.

The Thurtene Carnival will be on WUSTL’s campus, on Brookings Drive, from 4-8 p.m. April 19 and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 20 and 21. More than 50 WUSTL student organizations are involved.

Part of the allure of the weekend is the chance to walk around the lawn in front of Brookings Hall and check out the facades, elaborate miniature house-like structures that student organizations have created. Each has a theme, and past ones have ranged from surf shops to Egyptian crypts.

Students work, in shifts, around the clock for the week leading up to the carnival to get their facades built and decorated, and the groups start planning their displays months in advance.

Thurtene Junior Honorary has worked to make the event more environmentally friendly. So this year, the containers used to serve food will be compostable, thanks to a grant from the Student Sustainability Fund, explained Thurtene public relations co-chair Dara Baker, a junior majoring in psychology in Arts & Sciences. Composting stations will be set up around the carnival site. Leftover construction materials also will be reused for art projects.

Coca-Cola Co. is a sponsor for Thurtene for the second straight year. The company has donated 25 rain-collection barrels made of recycled material, and proceeds from sales of the barrels will go to charity. Bonfyre, a St, Louis-based free mobile sharing app co-founded by WUSTL alumni, also is a sponsor. The company will donate $1 for each person who joins the Thurtene Bonfyre group.

This year, the carnival’s overall theme is “Stay Enchanted,” a nod to the generations who have come to enjoy the annual event.

“Our theme serves as a celebration for parents who’ve been coming to the carnival since they were children,” said Thurtene public relations co-chair Emilio Ramos, a junior majoring in communication design. “We’re inviting them to come relive the mystical fervor of the carnival, now with their own children. We hope to continue the carnival’s honored tradition of uniting the university community with St. Louis citizens and local businesses.”

The carnival will boast typical staples such as funnel cakes and corn dogs, but also offer food choices with an international flavor such as potstickers and samosas. Admission to the carnival is free, but patrons should bring cash for rides, food and to see some of the plays inside the facades – which, again, rely on students’ writing and acting skills.

The weekend festivities will help benefit and promote the local charity that Thurtene is partnering with this year, Provident. Provident, one of the region’s oldest family service nonprofit agencies, provides a number of community programs, from after-school activities and character building for youth to a suicide prevention and crisis hotline.

Thurtene dates back to 1907 and is led by 13 juniors chosen for the honorary society based on their leadership, character and campus involvement.

For more information, visit www.thurtene.org.

WUSTL’s Alumni Weekend also will coincide with the Thurtene Carnival. To learn more, visit here.