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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Spring Fling isn’t biggest carnival of its kind, but could improve if moved back to UA campus

    Spring is the perfect time of year for a carnival. The weather is nice and the semester is coming to a close. Everyone is ready to take a break and go outside.

    The UA’s Spring Fling has been a tradition since 1974, and, according to its website, is the largest student-run carnival in the country.

    Each year, Spring Fling attracts more than 25,000 people. This year 32 clubs were involved, between running commercial game booths, original food booths, commercial food booths and pizza booths.

    These numbers are impressive, and Spring Fling is a fun, annual event that provides a way for students to give back to the Tucson community and earn profits for their clubs.

    But it turns out the UA Spring Fling is not actually the largest student-run carnival in the country.

    If you search “largest student-run carnival” on Google, the first link is to a blog post about an event called ThurtenE.

    ThurtenE (pronounced “thirteen”) is a student-run carnival that has been in operation since 1904. It is run by the Thurtene Honorary, a group of 13 juniors at Washington University in St. Louis.

    According to its Facebook page, ThurtenE “traditionally attracts well over 80,000 people,” and “brings together over 50 student organizations at Washington University.”


    You would think, that since the Associated Students of the University of Arizona loves to advertise that Spring Fling is the largest student-run carnival, that it would at least fact-check first.

    Whether or not Spring Fling is the biggest carnival of its kind, the claim is indicative of the bigger picture: Spring Fling could do better.

    If Spring Fling directors aren’t always looking for ways to improve the carnival, they aren’t doing their jobs correctly.

    Spring Fling is incredibly valuable to the UA and Tucson community. But over the past few years the event has seen a fluctuation in attendence. Although numbers haven’t been consistently reported every year by the Daily Wildcat, there has been a general downward trend since 2000, when attendance was 41,000. In 2010, just 23,000 people attended.

    One thing does seem to be consistent — Directors believe Spring Fling would attract more people, and make more money, if it were on campus.

    According to former Spring Fling executive director Brittany Steinke, in a 2011 article in the Daily Wildcat, since Spring Fling moved to Rillito Downs Park in 2000, there has been a decline in attendance and corporate sponsorship.

    Spring Fling initially moved because the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center was being built.

    Now that the ILC has been done with construction for 12 years, there’s no reason why Spring Fling shouldn’t move back to campus.

    Concerns about moving Spring Fling back to campus include noise, cleanliness, space and security, according to ASUA president Katy Murray.

    The Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association recently sent a letter to the Arizona Board of Regents, saying neighborhood residents do not want Spring Fling moved back to campus because of the noise it creates.

    But if the UA and Sam Hughes found a way to make the carnival work for 25 years, there is no reason why they can’t do it again.

    The increased student attendance and campus connection would be extremely beneficial.

    Maybe the knowledge that Spring Fling isn’t really the largest student-run carnival will be the push that ASUA needs to being it back to campus. Some friendly competition between Spring Fling and ThurtenE might help both carnivals continue to thrive.

    — Dan Desrochers is the opinions editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @drdesrochers .

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