Frontier Fiesta — Its Evolution
A TRADITION . . . FORMED IN THE DEPTHS
From an idea formed in the depths of the minds of five
students in 1940, there arose a tradition at the University
of Houston. It was called Frontier Fiesta, destined to
become the "Greatest College Show on Earth."
The first Fiesta was scheduled to make its appearance
on April 24, 1940. Students worked day and night
building, rehearsing, making costumes and contracting
for food and cold drinks to be brought to the campus
for on-lookers to enjoy. Even some of the faculty was
pressed into service. Dr. W. W. Kemmerer, the University's new president-elect helped by assisting in the
building of a dance floor for the Taxi Dance. Work
reached its zenith with only 24 hours till show time.
Then, as has happened many times since, Frontier Fiesta
was plagued with rain. For two days and two nights
the rains came. Fiesta was postponed.
OUT OF THE MUD A DIMINUTIVE ORGANISM APPEARS
A week later, Fiesta played to a crowd of 5,000. The
show ran for three nights.
In 1941, Frontier Fiesta was located at the south end
of the present football field. A beard growing contest
was initiated which called for the winner to receive a
portable radio for his efforts. Eight thousand people
attended the second Frontier Fiesta.
CATACLYSMIC DISTURBANCE HALTS DEVELOPMENT
World War II halted Fiesta's progress until 1946. That
year, with male students returning to the campus as war
veterans, a need was felt to bring back the college show.
A group of aspiring campus politicians ran on a ticket
promising the revival of Fiesta if they were elected to
office. After they won the election, they set about the
difficult task of reviving the Fiesta spirit on a campus
that had quadrupled in enrollment and had few old
timers around who knew anything about Fiesta.
REVIVES AFTER PERIOD OF DORMANCY
The third Fiesta site was the spot now occupied by the
Ezekiel W. Cullen Building, an area which was then a
hard-surfaced parking lot.
An automobile was donated by Earl McMillian as first
prize in the Beard Growing contest. Hundreds of other
prizes were contributed by local citizens to be given for
city-wide Frontier Fiesta promotion. An estimated
25,000 people visited the show between April 24 and
In 1948, it became necessary to extend the run of the
show and the size of the buildings to accommodate the
huge crowds. Fiesta played for four nights for the entertainment of 30,000 Houstonians. The following shows
and concessions made up Frontier Fiesta in '48: Silver
Moon Saloon sponsored by Kappa Delta Kappa; Tappa
Kegga Suds, TKS; The Hot Shot, Freshman Class; Drop
'Em In, Varsity "H"; Cavalier Theatre, the Cavaliers;
La Rata Muerta, El Foro Espanol; The Four Greeks,
Panhellenic; The Joe Pot, Newman Club; Section "8",
Psychology Club; General Store, Pi Delta; Darts for
Do-Nuts, Hillel; Hit Parade, Le Quartier Latin; Palace
Theater, Escrollus Society; Judge Roy Bean's Court,
Red Masque; Bella Union, Veteran's Guidance Office;
Crow's Nest, SAC; Silver Dollar Saloon, Jolly Boys; and
Penny Pitch, Lanyard Club.