Vintage Days: an outlet for Spring Fever
By Adam Wallace, Henry Madden Library
Created by students in 1975 as part of a trend of spring festivals on college campuses, Vintage Days has become a spring tradition at Fresno State, bringing together fun and celebration, the colorful history of the Valley and the community, with more than 50,000 people in attendance each year.
In the beginning, Vintage Days had a party atmosphere, hosting a street dance event that boasted upwards of 20,000 people in attendance and even having sponsorships from beer companies like Budweiser and Miller.
Then, as now, Vintage Days was host to movie nights and concerts, though in the 1970s, these events attracted as many as 8,000 people, due in part to being held in the campus amphitheater.
From the late 1970s through the 1980s, Vintage Days included more competitive events such as hay bucking, inner tube water polo, tricycle races, pie eating, frog jumping and tug of war contests, arm wrestling, push cart races and cow chip tosses.
Of special note was the T-shirt parade, where groups of students from various dormitories, clubs or Greek organizations got together to produce team T-shirts which were judged by a panel. They coined inventive team names such as “The Uncorkables,” “Raisin Hell,” and “The VD Crabs.”
Other events such as casino night were also started during this time period.
The party atmosphere did get out of hand at times, with brawls breaking out, people getting injured by broken bottles and campus farm animals being let loose.
As time went on, Vintage Days moved away from the student-party atmosphere and towards community outreach.
In the 1990s new events such as Kids Day, Multi-Cultural Night and the air guitar and lip sync contests largely replaced the student competitions. The crafts fair began including campus organizations and student organizations fundraised by selling food in boomtown booths.
However, the celebration still featured entertainment for students, with fun themes for each year’s events, dances featuring DJs, carnival rides and even burlesque shows during casino night.
Vintage Days in the new millennium continues the focus of bringing in the community by featuring sidewalk art contests, glassblowing demonstrations, more third party vendors and, perhaps most notably, world record attempts. These include the world’s largest video game controller, the world’s largest game of musical statues, the largest world map made of shoes, and the world’s largest water balloon fight.
Other community oriented events and attractions include a charity shoe drive, a kids zone and petting zoo, concert ticket giveaways for the winners of the “Vintage Challenge” (an event much like the Amazing Race) and the continued traditions of concerts and movie nights.
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