Frontier Fiesta: The Greatest College Show on Earth
A University of Houston tradition, Frontier Fiesta began in 1940 as a mishmash of musical and theatrical performances, cook-offs, carnival booths, and concessions. During the spring event, Fiesta volunteers transform a piece of land on campus into a western frontier-style town called Fiesta City.
The first two Fiestas, held in 1940 and 1941, were interrupted by World War II, and the event was suspended from 1942 to 1945. Re-established in 1946, it ran until 1959. The festival was reinstated for its third run in 1992 and continues today. The early Fiestas raised money to address campus needs, such as a student recreation center or swimming pool. For most of its duration, and to date, proceeds from the festival have funded scholarships for entering freshmen and current students.
In the early 1950s, Life magazine proclaimed Fiesta the "Greatest College Show on Earth." And during its second run, the event grew to its greatest popularity. During its heyday, Frontier Fiesta attracted as many as 100,000 people to the UH campus, including celebrities and visitors from all over the nation, including Ed Sullivan, Kenny Rogers, and Humphrey Bogart -- just to name a few.
This exhibit includes programs, jackets, photographs, and other ephemera documenting the three runs of what was once known as the greatest college show on earth.
About the Exhibit
1st Floor MD Anderson Library
March 18-June 6, 2014
- Houston History magazine article on Frontier Fiesta
- Frontier Fiesta Collection
- University of Houston Frontier Fiesta digital collection
- The Frontier Fiesta organization
- University of Houston Archives