A look back at Homecoming at Iowa State through the years

Leah Gage

Homecoming, one of the few unified campus celebrations, is a lasting tradition celebrated annually. This weeklong celebration celebrates the history and alumni of Iowa State while bringing together the current student population.

Iowa State’s Homecoming can be dated back to 1912, when Professor Samuel Beyer proposed the idea of Homecoming to then-President Raymond Peason. Together, they sent out invitations to the alum of the then-Iowa State College.

The message read, “We need you, we must have you. Come and see what you have made in Iowa State College. Find a way,” as noted on the website of the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

What some Cyclones might not realize, is that many of the traditions and events that take place at Homecoming each year have been carried on for more than 50 years.

Traditions such as Yell Like Hell, the Pep Rally and Lawn Displays are a few among many of the traditions that have withheld the test of time.

Lawn Displays are the longest standing tradition in Iowa State’s homecoming history and the focal point of ExCYtement in the Streets. This event can be described as the most grandiose tradition across university campuses for being elaborate as well as professional, said Homecoming Central Committee general co-chair, Evan Fritz. 

As a 2004 graduate of Iowa State University, Kurt Beyer, assistant director of Student Programs, witnessed homecoming as a student, a two year member of the Homecoming Central Committee and as the general co-chair his senior year during Homecoming 2003.

During those years, there have been a few big changes, but the main changes have been little ones made to the core events of homecoming, said Beyer.

“Food on Campus, when I was homecoming co-chair, were three days of food, maybe four days of food,” Beyer said about the tradition that now takes place over six days. “That has fluctuated from year to year, but now we’re pretty constant.”

Lawn Displays got their start in November 1912, after a group of engineering students built a 55-foot electric sign that read, “Beat Iowa, Eat Iowa,” as Iowa vs. Iowa State was the homecoming battle that first year, according to the Alumni Associate website.

These displays are now a key crowd gatherer of not only students, but members of the Ames community. This year’s Lawn Displays are similar, but in smaller numbers than in the past, Beyer said.

There will be five lawn displays featured in this year’s festivities, as well as four campus decks that serve as mini lawn displays.

“Lawn Display is a 102 year-old tradition of 102 years of homecoming, There’s always been a lawn display competition, so we’re trying to reinvigorate that competition which is really important,” Beyer said.

The location of the Pep Rally Oct. 10 is one of the changes that has been made to Homecoming. For the Cytennial in 2012, the 100th Homecoming, the committee was expecting larger than normal numbers of attendees and made the move from Central Campus under the Campanile to the parking lot of the Alumni Center.

“We pushed people out here [the Alumni Center] for a homecoming celebration starting as early as 5 o’clock,” Beyer said. “We had food and games for the kids. We had a massive new Homecoming stage put up in the parking lot facing the Alumni Center and started having the Pep Rally here.”

Although there is no specified number of events to be scheduled each year during the celebration, Fritz said they jam pack as many activities into the week as possible, adding six or seven new events this year alone.

“New events are added to cater to the changing needs of the college,” said Fritz and adds they will take any and all suggestions students want to provide to the committee.