3. Lawn Displays

Ashley Hunt

Lawn Displays

Lawn displays are one of the few traditions that have been key to Homecoming events from the very first year. While many traditions have been eliminated from ISU Homecoming lineup, lawn displays have not only remained, but grown and evolved into something more and more special each year.

The first lawn display came during the first ISU Homecoming in 1912. Engineering students created an electric sign, 55 feet long and 20 feer high, that read “Beat Iowa, Eat Iowa.”

In the following years, welcome signs were put up throughout Ames to get the town in the spirit.

In the early 1920s, lawn displays moved from streets to campus residences. A contest soon developed between houses. Houses would compete for a silver cup, but also to show alumni what they could do and how creative they could be. 

Displays soon evolved in the following decades from two-dimensional banners and crepe paper, to three-dimensional structures in the lawns, to structures that incorporated mechanical features and sound effects.

The tradition’s popularity decreased in the next few years, only to be made popular again by one lone fraternity, who created a lawn display in efforts to not let the tradition die. 

The next year, greek residences entered competition and in the following decades, policies were put into effect to establish rules to the creation of the displays.

Today, students in the greek community put in countless hours of work to create the lawn displays, which are judged by ISU faculty and alumni on categories such as creativity, organization and incorporation of the year’s Homecoming theme.