Goat yoga, free food and more at first-ever Welcome Weekend celebration


Students strike a yoga pose during goat calisthenics at the “Greatest of All Time Breakfast” on Aug. 20

The student affairs office held Iowa State’s first Cyclone Welcome Weekend in the days leading up to the first week of classes.

The festivities kicked off Friday night with a cookout full of hotdogs, burgers and brats supplied by Hyvee at Lied Recreation Center.

“It was a last-minute decision to move [the cookout] indoors because of the weather,” said Toyia Younger, vice president of student affairs. “But I think it was a great decision because…everyone spread out across the entire [Lied Center].”

Over 3,000 students attended the cookout. While enjoying the food, students jammed out to music as they played volleyball, basketball and bag toss.

At 7:45 a.m. Saturday, groups of students began lining up for the “Greatest of All Time Breakfast,” which officially began at 8:00 a.m. Early estimates indicate around 1,000 students were in attendance.

The free breakfast was accompanied by several sessions of goat calisthenics, where students followed along with a yoga instructor in a pen with 14 goats.

“Some of the goats were kind of skittish, but once in a while there was one that would stand on your mat and you’d either work around them or just stare at them,” said Mason Friest, a freshman studying engineering. “It’s quite an experience, and I would definitely do it again.”

Students also had the opportunity to ride a mechanical bull, play with inflatables and win raffle prizes such as football tickets and AirPods.

Other Welcome Weekend events included two movie showings, bingo and a performance from Chris Jones, a hypnotist and previous contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

While creating Welcome Weekend, the student affairs office collaborated with members of Student Government and several advisory boards. Students, city officials and local businesses were all involved in creating the events.

In past years, the university hosted Destination Iowa State (DIS), a series of events organized for incoming students the weekend before classes. The university still hosted DIS, but the addition of Welcome Weekend ensured incoming and returning students had access to campus activities.

Some of the initial conversations for Welcome Weekend sparked from the observation that “some people choose to go out and party or do other things because we don’t have anything planned,” Younger said.

There has not been a formal decision on whether or not Welcome Weekend will return next year, but many of the event coordinators are pleased with this year’s results.

“It was just such a celebratory environment,” said Haley Cook, strategic engagement coordinator in the Office of the President. “It was really neat to see the connections and to see how people were sitting down and meeting each other.”