State Day celebration honors ISU’s 165th anniversary


Robert Dillon

SALC celebrated Iowa State’s 165th birthday at their 2023 State Day event on central campus.

Free hotdogs, inflatable “Knockerball” bubbles and more drew students to central campus yesterday afternoon to celebrate Iowa State’s 165th birthday.

The Student Alumni Leadership Council (SALC) hosted their annual State Day event in front of the Campanile between Curtiss and Beardshear from noon to 3 p.m. The event featured free food, giveaways and interactive activities to help students embrace their Cyclone spirit and learn about Iowa State’s SALC committees.

“The biggest goal of today’s event is just kind of appreciating Iowa State and what we’re here for and celebrating Iowa State as a whole,” said Kabe Boysen, vice president of SALC.

State Day, also known as Founders Day, celebrates the date Iowa State was established. The university, at the time known as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, was recognized on March 22, 1858, and it opened its doors for the first time in 1869.

One of the event’s main attractions was an arena of Knockerballs, which are inflatable chambers with inner handles and straps that let people charge into each other in a similar style to bumper cars.

Two students prepare to charge at one another while strapped into Knockerball inflatables at SALC’s State Day event March 22, 2023. (Robert Dillon)

“It’s kind of fun to launch people around,” said Peter Le, a sophomore studying accounting who tried out the Knockerballs. “It’s a nice day out, so why not?”

William Lavelle, a graduate student studying cybersecurity, was skateboarding toward Friley Windows for lunch when he passed by the Campanile. Despite wanting food, Levelle was swayed to visit the event when he noticed the Knockerballs, and he told himself, ‘Alright, I gotta live a little bit.’

“I was out for blood,” Lavelle said. “Not in a mean way, but I was definitely running around the whole time. It’s unexpectedly a great exercise.”

Additional activities included a dunk tank, a mini basketball hoop and giveaway contests. The Senior Class Council offered a contest to guess how many cocktail wieners were stuffed into a jar sitting on their table. This was a nod to the “Wieners for Seniors” event they host each fall and spring.

The number of wieners was 114, according to Taylor Lekin, a senior in agricultural and rural policy studies and a member of the Senior Class Council. The contestant who submitted the closest guess will receive a $50 giftcard to Es Tas Bar and Grill, a restaurant located on Stanton Avenue.

An SALC member asks nearby students “Who can guess how many hot dogs are in this jar?” The person with the closest guess received a $50 gift card to Es Tas Bar and Grill. (Robert Dillon)

Several students who grabbed food on their way through the booths stopped on the steps of Curtiss to eat their meal and enjoy the weather. People sat on the stairs with hotdogs and mini water bottles in hand while others stood in groups talking to their friends.

Garhett Allen, a junior studying agricultural business, noticed the event while walking across campus from the Food Science Building. Allen grabbed an Insomnia Cookie from one of the booths before taking a seat on the steps of Curtiss to hang out with a friend.

“I didn’t know [the event] was happening beforehand, but it was a good little event to walk through,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of people attending, which is nice. It’s very upbeat.”

Other giveaways included mugs, cups and T-shirts.

The Homecoming Central Committee popped popcorn to give out to passing students in honor of next year’s Homecoming theme, which is “Carnival and Gold.” They estimate 200-300 people came by their table.

One of the event’s goals was to recognize and remember Iowa State’s traditions, which include kissing a loved one under the Campanile at midnight and avoiding the Zodiac in the Memorial Union. Boysen’s favorite Iowa State tradition is Homecoming.

“[Homecoming] is a big tradition for the alumni and the current students of Iowa State to get together and truly celebrate what Iowa State is and what it’s about,” Boysen said. “One of my favorite things is just being able to see everyone back together.”

Boysen believes it’s important to celebrate State Day to represent Cyclone spirit, and for Boysen, the essence of Cyclone spirit is the community’s welcoming nature.

“Instantly when I came here, I felt like I was at home; I felt like this was my place where I needed to be,” Boysen said. “One of the coolest things about Iowa State is that it is welcoming and people [are] constantly coming in and having new perspectives and being able to truly get together.”