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February 25, 2024

Reference archivist explains history of Spring Fair

By ABBY BIESMAN | April 30, 2015

This past weekend marked the 44th anniversary of Spring Fair, a three-day carnival open to both Hopkins students and the public. Many features of the student-run event, including its name, have evolved throughout its history on the Homewood Campus.

“The official title of what we now know as Spring Fair was ‘3400 on Stage,’” James Stimpert, senior reference archivist for the Milton S. Eisenhower (MSE) Library said. “It began as an attempt to open up the campus for a weekend, invite the community, encourage the community to come in and see the campus.”

Stimpert is not sure how 3400 on Stage became Spring Fair, but said that part of the initial idea behind Spring Fair was to showcase that Hopkins is not exclusively a research-oriented university and that there is a healthy, bustling undergraduate life on campus.

Stimpert said that beer has been a historical staple of Spring Fair.

“There were beer vendors sprinkled along the quads just as there are soda vendors nowadays. Basically every little group was responsible for checking IDs if they were so inclined,” he said.

Stimpert attributes the creation of Beer Garden as result of the drinking age being increase to 21 in 1982. To his knowledge the event has always been held in the President’s Garden.

“They have someone at the gate checking IDs, and now they give you a bracelet to indicate that they have checked your ID,” Stimpert said. “They always have quite a few security officers in and around the gardens.”

The variety of beers offered at Spring Fair has broadened.

“It used to be entirely Coors and Coors Light because I think they were sponsoring the beer garden then,” Stimpert said.

All the beer must be paid for, and prices have changed only minutely over the years from $1 in 1988 to $3 currently.

The Beer Garden also featured live music throughout the years.

Overtime the layout of the fair itself has changed. Food trucks used to be on Keyser Quad where merchandise vendors were this year. The amusement park rides, which were set up outside the Brody Learning Commons this year, used to be on the Freshman Quad.

The different kinds of food offered at Spring Fair have also changed over the years.

“One year they decided it would be a great idea to limit the food vendors to just one vendor for each type of food. The chosen vendor was delighted because he had line stretched 50 people long all day behind him,” Stimpert said. “The fairgoers did not relish the idea of waiting in a 50 person line. There were a lot of complaints. That rule was only enforced for one year.”

Because Spring Fair is outdoors, weather has a dominant role in the event.

One year, due to scheduling conflicts, Spring Fair was held during the first weekend of April and it snowed.

“The other joke that we’ve mentioned is whenever we learned the Spring Fair dates are going to be this, this and this, we can figure it’s going to rain at least one of those days,” Stimpert said.

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