Five ‘can’t miss’ highlights of Thurtene 2018

Thurtene returns to its original location on west end of campus

Carson Gaines, left, and Addy Shah prepare food at the Zeta Beta Tau food booth during the 2014 Thurtene Carnival. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Thousands of people will visit Washington University in St. Louis Friday through Sunday, April 13-15, to enjoy one of the university’s most time-honored traditions: Thurtene Carnival. Highlights include thrilling rides, student-constructed theaters and attractions, wacky food and entertaining performances. Here are five “can’t miss” highlights of this year’s installment of the largest and oldest student-run carnival in the United States:

The food

Thurtene always delivers carnival favorites. This year’s highlights include waffles on a stick, churros, chocolate-covered bananas and shaved ice. And don’t forget the “deep fry anything” booth, hosted for some three decades by the brothers of Zeta Beta Tau and Delta Gamma. You bring it, they’ll fry it .


A student-constructed facade. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Among the most popular attractions are the traditional student-built facades that add to the carnival’s unique flair. Each year teams, typically made up of one sorority and one fraternity, work together to build a structure in which they provide entertainment that has ranged from carnival games to performances. This year, 12 Greek organizations signed up to contribute to seven different structures, including full facades, whose walls can be up to 12 feet, and half facades, which are typically more open. Groups keep the theme of their structure secret until the carnival, but past facades have resembled anything from a beehive to an ancient Egyptian temple to an arcade.

People bring all these creative ideas to the carnival, and it’s amazing that a group of 18- to 22-year-olds are constructing these grand facades,” said junior Mari Hattenbach, head of media relations for Thurtene Honorary. “We’re excited to continue this unique tradition that makes Thurtene Carnival so special.

Thurtene Carnival

When: 4-8 p.m. Friday, April 13; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15
Where: Washington University in St. Louis, west parking lots
How much: Free; tickets must be purchased for rides and some plays
More info: Thurtene


The Thurtene main stage will feature the best student dance groups and music ensembles. Performers include salsa group WUSauce, Bollywood fusion dance team WashU Chaahat and swing dance team Swing Theory as well as the Bear Nation Varsity Band and mariachi band Mariachi Cuicacalli. 

“This year, Thurtene really wanted versatility in our stage performances,” said Alexis Jaya Hutchinson, Thurtene Honorary’s programming director. “We are so excited to have our university classics such as Bear Nation Varsity Band and a new campus addition, Mariachi Cuicacalli.”

A new location

Due to construction on the east end of Washington University’s Danforth Campus, the carnival will return to a historic location spanning the Simon Hall parking lot, Olympian Way and the parking lot in front of Sumers Recreation Center. The seemingly new location is actually not new at all. In fact, it’s where the carnival used to be held until 30 years ago. The move even inspired this year’s carnival theme, “Thurtene Through the Years: Our Shared History.”

Thurtene map
Thurtene Carnival 2018 location map

“Both the theme and the location really emphasize the fact that this may be a WashU event, but it’s really a St. Louis tradition that’s all about bringing community together,” Hattenbach said. “Returning to this original location, right in the heart of the Danforth Campus, makes Thurtene even more visible and accessible. We’re really excited about the move and look forward to the St. Louis community celebrating with us.”

Community partner

Visit the Join Hands East St. Louis booth at the carnival to learn about this year’s community partner. The organization focuses on empowering and supporting children through access to high-quality education from early childhood through college.

“We’re really happy to be partnering with them,” said Hattenbach, who recently visited the organization with the rest of Thurtene Honorary to learn more about its mission. “The main purpose of Thurtene is to bring together WashU and the broader St. Louis community, and we feel that this organization specifically has such an impact on St. Louis that we’re really proud to bring them to our carnival and highlight the amazing work that they do.”

For the latest updates from Thurtene, visit the event’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages or Snapchat (@Thurtene).

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