sealPurdue News

December 19, 2002

Purdue alumni's Gala Week to merge with Spring Fest in 2004

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's most senior alumni will participate in time-honored traditions and join students for some new recreational activities in 2004 when their Gala Week merges with Spring Fest.

Murray M. Blackwelder, senior vice president for advancement, said these senior alumni – from classes celebrating 50 years or more since graduation – will gain a new perspective on Purdue by participating in Spring Fest. The classes representing younger alumni will be honored during Homecoming.

Spring Fest, which began 90 years ago as the Ag School Open House, features almost 100 campuswide events, activities, demonstrations and seminars, including the Bug Bowl, the Horticulture Show, Brick Bowl and school open houses. Last year it attracted an estimated crowd of more than 30,000 people. In 2004, it will take place from Friday, April 16, through Sunday, April 18.

"Gala Week had been the time set aside each spring for all our class reunions," Blackwelder said. "We now are separating those reunions. In the spring of 2003, we will celebrate the reunions for those marking 50 years or more. In the fall of 2003, we will celebrate our other class reunions.

"Then, in spring 2004, we will maintain this new pattern and make one more change for the 50-year class and the Forever Class, moving the date for their spring reunion up a few weeks to Spring Fest."

Martha J. Burns, director of reunions, travel and merchandise for the Purdue Alumni Association, said the merger should allow senior alumni to take advantage of the many activities Spring Fest offers while still enjoying the traditional class dinners and events associated with Gala Week.

"Just like this fall's expanded campuswide Homecoming festivities that the alumni enjoyed so much, Spring Fest will give alumni a far broader look at the university and give them the opportunity to interact with our students," Burns said. "The Greater Lafayette community already knows that this event offers a fun-filled weekend of educational activities, especially for children. Now alumni can take advantage of the same opportunities, while being a part of the growth and excitement of Spring Fest."

Thomas B. Robinson, vice president for student services, said alumni might remember some components of Spring Fest that students have enjoyed for decades.

"The Horticulture Show began 90 years ago, the Veterinary School Open House tradition is more than 50 years old and the Bug Bowl is entering its 12th year," Robinson said. "The events and programs, while traditionally focused on agriculture and science, now have a greater universitywide appeal, attracting prospective students, parents, area school teachers, members of the community and alumni."

Blackwelder added, "Currently seven Purdue schools offer a variety of Spring Fest activities, and we hope that all schools will be involved in 2004."

Burns said the Purdue Alumni Association will work all their traditional Gala Week events into the Spring Fest schedule, including the reunion class gift dedication, dinners, the annual class parade to John Purdue's grave, the Loyalty Brunch and the Founders Day Banquet.

Blackwelder said, "We at Purdue are dedicated to making both Gala Week and Spring Fest special for the Greater Lafayette area, our friends, our alumni and our students."

The changes will not affect the running date of the Grand Prix kart race, which has traditionally taken place during Gala Week.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Sources: Murray Blackwelder, (765) 496-2144,

Thomas B. Robinson, (765) 494-5776,

Martha J. Burns, (765) 494-51181,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page