1912 ISC Ag Carnival
Postcard photos from May 16, 1912
Students from Iowa State's Agriculture Department held an Ag Carnival celebration for the first time in 1912. This became an annual event that would involve both the college and town until the first Veishea Festival, held in 1922, united six traditional departmental days into one springtime event. The photo above shows the winning float in the burlesque category, constructed by the Horticulture Department students. This float can also be seen in one of the Main Street parade postcards towards the bottom of this page.
State Library's website:
The Agriculture Carnival was first held in 1912. It was patterned after a popular event at the University of Missouri which resembled an old fashioned county fair. The first celebration incorporated a parade, greased pig contest, baseball games, sorority relay races, and a carnival on the pasture grounds east of campus. The day closed with an evening movie showing. The city of Ames entered into the spirit of the day, and businesses were closed in the afternoon so all could attend.
The Agriculture Carnival was held annually in May until 1915. No Carnival was held from 1916 through 1918. The event was re-established in 1919, as the beginning of a weekend that included vaudeville shows, a debate with Kansas State, a track meet, and a dance in State Gym. The Carnival was held in 1920 and 1921 and then was absorbed into the VEISHEA celebration in 1922. Learn more at Iowa State Library's Ag Carnival page.
Although the name Ag Carnival would persist through the 1930s, the event would change in character, becoming a fall festival involving displays and a dance instead of the Main Street parade. From the October 13, 1933 issue of the Ames Daily Tribune-Times: A carnival attraction of seven booths including everything from "A Streets of Paris" scene to a colored mice comic conducted by the ag engineers will be featured at the annual Ag. Carnival scheduled for Saturday evening in Great Hall Memorial Union. Dave Armstrong, of Humeston, is chairman of the carnival committee. Plans are going forward to make this one of the biggest and best carnival attractions of the year. Practically every department in the agricultural division will have a booth. An unusually good band featuring radio stars will play for the dancing.
May 9, 1912
AG CARNIVAL TO BE A BIG AFFAIR - The announcement that prizes would be given for the best floats in the Ag Carnival parade is spurring the various departments of the college to greater efforts to out do each other in the matter of original and artistic displays. The beautiful Tilden banner will be given to the best display float and E.T. Greve has offered one for the best burlesque float or group. these prizes are well worth winning and the department that wins one of them will have something to be proud of when it is hung on the wall of their meeting room.
Two committees of down town business men are to officiate as judges and the work will be done while the parade is moving along Main street. The names of these men will not be disclosed until the afternoon of the parade.
From all appearances the parade will be the largest and most gorgeous ever seen in Story county. It is a well known fact that some of the best horses of two continents are owned at the college and all these will be seen that day pulling floats. Some very original displays are being worked out and the result will be equal to any thing that Ringling Bros. or Barnum & Bailey can put out. Music there will be in abundance and good music, too. At least three good bands will be in the line of march and possibly a fourth. Besides these a musical feature will be put on the like of which has never been heard in the county.
The humorous side will not be lost sight of. All along the line of march the spectators will be entertained by a score of first class clowns. These alone will be worth coming downtown to see.
Great as the parade will be the afternoon show on the lot will be not one whit less interesting. The committee in charge of this part of the work has brought together a large number of attractions that will be worth seeing. One will be able to see a Spanish Bull fight, real cowboys breaking wild horses, and a dozen or more exhibitions equally interesting. A novel scheme has been inked out to apply to the old time baby rack and visitors will be permitted to throw at something they have been longing for years to hit.
For those athletically inclined a first class ball game lasting five innings will claim their attention. There will be something for everybody and something doing all the time.
The evening show will be first class. The natural amphitheater on the old golf links will be utilized and a high class vaudeville show will be put on. Following this three reels of moving pictures will be thrown upon the screen. An outside moving picture show has not been attempted before in this vicinity and the Ag boys are doing something that deserves the support of all the citizens of Ames.
Without a doubt May 16th will be a red letter day for Ames. Let's all boost for it and help establish the day as an unusual event. Every citizen of the city and every student and faculty member ought to be there. It is going to be the liveliest day Ames has ever experienced.
May 16, 1912
SPECIAL TRAIN ARRIVED IN AMES - The Des Moines jobbers excursion arrived in Ames about three o'clock this afternoon from the east and spent an hour in our city on the last day of their trip over the state. A special train of three coaches and a baggage car carried the one hundred boosters and they were accompanied by a big Scotch band.
Immediately after their arrival in Ames the band started a lively march and they paraded down the Main street and back to Grand avenue where a special car was waiting to carry them to the college where the Ag Carnival is holding forth. Every Des Moines man entered into the enjoyment of the occasion and all were loathe to leave the fun at the college.
Back downtown again, the jobbers scattered among the business houses for a short chat with the many Ames merchants with whom they do business. They left at 3:55 for Kelley and are due back in Des Moines at 7:35 this evening. The men on this jobbers excursion are typical of the spirit of the largest city in the state and they are sure enough boosters, both for Des Moines and town. They are a great bunch of business men and Ames is proud to have had the opportunity to welcome them to our city. It is a sure thing that these men are going back and talk Ames as about the best place they have seen on their present trip and we can't blame them any if they do.
May 16, 1912
BIG AG CARNIVAL ON HERE TODAY - Ames don't need anything more exciting than an Ag Carnival to turn out in full force and enjoy themselves. The big Ag affair is on today and hundreds of people began lining the streets at one o'clock for the parade. The threatening clouds broke away about noon and even Old Sol himself turned out with a big smile to watch the fun.
About two o'clock the big parade was pulled off and nothing to equal it has been seen before. Headed by the I.S.C. band of forty pieces, the pageant came down Main street. Floats representing every Ag department at the college, beautifully decorated and pulled by ton thoroughbred horses, clowns of every description, a clown band, a drum corps composed of old soldiers, burlesque floats, auto trucks and at the end a big steam calliope behind a Case traction engine. It was indeed a parade to excite no small amount of wonder and showed weeks of preparation and hard work.
It was a difficult task for the judges to pick out the floats deserving of the banners given in the two classes -- one for the best decorated and most typical and one for the best burlesque float. The Dairy, Animal Husbandry and Home Economics floats were all bunched for honors in the first class, but the Dairy finally won out with their beautiful yellow and white outfit, bulled by a handsome team, and a model creamery outfit on deck. The A.H. display was pulled by four big horses and calves, pigs, sheep and other domestic animals of the very highest type of breeding rode on the large platform.
In the burlesque class the banner was awarded to the Horticultural department. A wagon with huge apples built over the wheels and burlesque apples of different varieties in immense shapes was the feature of this display and it certainly made a hit. Messrs. Barney and Gibson performed like circus players on the steam calliope and the touching strains of "You Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Aroun'," "Everybody's Doin' it," and "O, You Beautiful Doll" could be heard for miles around.
After the parade of the downtown streets the fun began at the college on the old golf links. A Spanish Bull Fight, Sorority Relay Race, Obstacle races, rough riding, greased pig contest and other real stunts were on the program and professors and students indulged in all the fun together. The formal opening of the "Pike" occurred about three o'clock and hilarity broke loose in every corner of the grounds. The Des Moines boosters, 100 strong and their band went out in a special car to see what was going on and there wasn't a man that didn't hate to leave the carnival grounds.
At six o'clock the Monster Feed and Appetite Display comes off, and enough "eats" have been prepared so that nobody is going to go hungry. 'Twill be well worth the price of admission to watch the crowd eat, but who wants to sit around and watch them -- without a sandwich in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. The evening show commencing at eight o'clock will be a most clever collection of original stunts. Three quartettes, clog dancers, humorous monologues, Bisbee's tumbling acts and moving pictures go to make up the free program and the grounds will be electric lighted.
The Ag Carnival this year is a mighty big event. Business houses closed for the parade this afternoon and every downtown person as well as the college people is interested. It should be made a permanent affair and should get better every year. Invite the Engineers in next year, take the whole day off from college work, and let the whole college get out on one big frolic every year. It does everybody good and 'tis far better than bringing in a carnival company or street fair to take a bunch of money out of town and leave nothing in return. The Ag Carnival is free and it leaves many a happy remembrance and a pleasant taste in the mouth.
|The two photo postcards of the Ag Carnival
parade on Ames Main Street show a rare early look at the north side of
the 300 block, between Kellogg and Burnett. A few years later, the
construction of the Sheldon-Munn Hotel on the Kellogg corner would trigger
a construction boom in this block, and the wooden storefronts and homes
in this area would soon all be replaced by brick storefronts.
Miller's Blacksmith & Wagon Shop sign is visible in the middle of the block, and, since Frank Morris has, by this time, constructed his new clay tile livery building on the south side of Main Street (Town Centre building), his old wood livery structure at the Kellogg corner has been removed. Advertising billboards fill this area in the 1912 photo.
The back of the massive Armory building on Fifth Street is prominent in the background at left, and the flag of the Federal Building (1912 Post Office) is visible over the Armory.
This 1911 Sanborn Insurance Map segment shows the 300 block of Ames Main Street
Three homes at bottom left are marked with "D" for domicile. The red viewpoint arrow points at a small storefront and to Miller's blacksmith/carpenter shop. The next building east is an "Electric Shop" that will from 1918 until 1926 be home to Sam Ding's "Chinese Laundry." The final two buildings are the store selling farm machinery and the "2nd Hand Store." These two structures will last for several more years until the Sheldon-Munn Hotel is constructed. Billboards fill the remainder of the empty space where the old Frank Morris livery had been. View a photo of that livery building.