May 25, 2019

34th annual event combines history with new attractions

Opening ceremonies for Vintage Days are tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at the USU South Patio. All booths open Friday morning at 10 a.m. Closing ceremonies are at the Craft Faire Stage at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Courtesy of Vintage Days

What began as one day of recreation has evolved into a four day attraction of music, food and fun.

The 34th annual Vintage Days at Fresno State will feature a variety of themes and events not seen in years past, but many of the traditions still remain. The name of this year’s event is “Bringing Vintage Back.”

As always, the Boomtown Carnival will showcase booths from a number of student organizations who will be providing food and games for visitors, while the crafts faire will be lined with vendors selling everything from homemade jewelry to original art.

The T-shirt parade on Thursday will again kick off the festival, while Casino Night – which has also been around from the start – will be held in the University Student Union lounge this year.

While musical styles have changed with the times, live entertainment can again be enjoyed at both the Boomtown Carnival and the crafts faire. This year will feature a range of musical genres, such as salsa music and Christian rock, and hip-hop artist Chingy. A more recent tradition is the Battle of the Bands, in which spectators can watch some of the best musical groups in the Valley face off.

This year will also continue the tradition of the outdoor showing of some classic movies. In 1980, the film was “Alien,” while “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” played in 1990. This year, “American Graffiti” will be on the screen.

In 1911, before Fresno State gained university status, Vintage Days was known by another name – the Raisin Day Festival. The crowds were smaller then and the fun only lasted for a day. After some time, the event became known as the Blue Key Carnival and was hosted by the sororities on campus.

When Fresno State College finally became a university in 1972, with the funds and facilities to plan a much grander, four-day long event.

According to Alyssa McCracken, the pre-nursing sophomore who is coordinating this year’s Vintage Days, one of the goals of the festival at that time was to showcase what the new Fresno State had to offer and to spread awareness of some of the new programs.

At the same time, McCracken said, “We brought a lot of things back from the history of Vintage Days.”

The first Vintage Days took place on May 8, 1975 and featured an evening street dance and the music of funk and jazz band Rope of Sand.

In 1977, Vintage Days held a number of games that are not seen anymore. Among these were the log sawing contest, frog jumping, inner tube water polo and earthball. Crowds could also get a free hayride and listen to music from the California Brass Quartet.

In 1991, the logo had changed from a cluster of grapes to something more festive. Every year since has featured a different design.

Some other new additions have taken place since the early days of the festival. A car show will be held this year in parking Lot C, the Strongman Contest will test the might of some of the toughest men around the country and the Kid’s Zone will include a petting zoo. The Fresno State Salsa Club will be holding Salsa Night on Saturday at the Satellite Student Union for only $7, although students may attend for free.

Parking will be open to the public during Vintage Days and more than 50,000 people are expected to attend.

McCracken encourages students to attend the event as a way to relax and have fun before finals. She also stressed the family-friendly aspect of the event.

“It’s a family fun activity where you get to see Fresno State as not school-based, but that it’s fun and has lots to offer,” McCracken said.

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