The annual VEISHEA celebration is one of the many rich traditions that form part of the history of Iowa State University. Celebrated at the end of the spring semester each year, this weekend of festivities was designed as a celebration that focuses on entertaining, educating, and promoting leadership. These were the three original goals of VEISHEA and although the celebration has significantly changed over the years, these ideals remain.

VEISHEA was first celebrated in 1922 in an effort to combine the various spring celebrations put on by each college at Iowa State into one large all-university celebration. The name VEISHEA appropriately represents the origins of the celebration, as it is an acronym for the five original colleges at Iowa State—Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics and Agriculture. The first VEISHEA celebrations mostly focused on the academic offerings of Iowa State, while providing plenty of entertainment and social activities. The open houses put on by campus clubs and departments were the most popular attractions. One of the most popular open houses was put on by Division of Home Economics. This display included the selling of the now-famous cherry pies. Most people who celebrate VEISHEA say VEISHEA isn't VEISHEA without a cherry pie.

The parade is another tradition that has withstood the test of time. Although much smaller back in the 1920s when nearly all floats were pulled by horses, the parade attracted people from across the state. Originally only academic departments built floats for the parade, but eventually residence areas also began to build floats. Today, academic departments, campus organizations, community groups, and residence areas build floats or have entries in the parade. An original event that began in 1922 and was renamed in 1925 but no longer exists is the vaudeville show. This variety show included skits, musical groups, some sort of musical play or comedy, and an assortment of circus-like entertainment. In 1922, the original musical theatre production, now known as Stars Over VEISHEA, was performed as the Nite Show. In 1940 the event was produced outside under the stars on Clyde Williams Field, hence the name Stars Over VEISHEA. This event is now held inside in C.Y. Stephens’s auditorium.

In 1935, a water carnival was incorporated into the events. This same year the swans Lancelot and Elaine were purchased for Lake LaVerne. Many alumni remember the canoe races as a big VEISHEA event. These races began as part of the 1935 water carnival.

Another popular event during VEISHEA was the VEISHEA Queen of Queens pageant. Beginning in 1938, the Queen was chosen from the queens of other campus events such as Homecoming and Greek Week. Famous judges from all over the nation, including Cary Grant, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby selected the VEISHEA Queen of Queens. The last VEISHEA Queen of Queens was crowned in 1970.

VEISHEA has had a long and prosperous history, but not without its problems. With its rich tradition and strong roots, this celebration will continue to survive.
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