UH Moment

UH Moment: “Frontier Fiesta”

There's research, Tier One students and faculty, but UH is also about traditions.  Hear about one great tradition in this UH Moment. 


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Frontier Fiesta is a UH tradition that traces its roots to the early days of the university.  

The annual campus event began in 1939 as a way for theuniversity to  give back to its community with a week-long festival of events including student variety shows, games and musical acts.  Students came together to plan the event and build the elaborate booths and “Fiesta City” sets.  Dr. Bill McCurdy of the class of 1960 remembers:

“My fraternity built and ran the photo saloon every year,” he said. “In the high-tech time of the 1950s, our role was to take polaroid pictures of visitors with the backdrop (of Frontier Fiesta) behind them.”

1956 Frontier Fiesta Program Cover (Click to Enlarge)Student Jeff Syptak is chairman of Frontier Fiesta.  He says stars like Humphrey Bogart came to UH then to be seen in what Life Magazine called “the greatest college show on earth.”  

“It used to be the place where movie stars, musicians and any celebrities known in the US would want to attend, to be see and have fun at Frontier Fiesta,” he said.    

Now a three-day annual event, UH Frontier Fiesta still features hot music, student variety shows, a huge cook-off and bake off, a Mr. and Miss Frontier Fiesta contest and lots of family-friendly games.  Funds raised support student scholarships.

“Frontier Fiesta is a big outdoor festival which invites alums, current students, administration and all of Houston to campus to have a good time,” Syptak said. “It’s like an extension of spring break!”

As McCurdy remembers, “We had some things back then that we thought were traditions that would last forever and one of the  big ones was Frontier Fiesta.”

Tradition is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.

Fiesta City today