Deeply rooted in tradition, 2006 marks the 13th year of Cal Poly Open House, a university celebration that has been around for more than a century.
The event started in 1904 as Farmers’ Picnic, a celebration that attracted 200 visitors to the campus for new building tours, a BBQ and agriculture shows. Then, in 1933 the celebration grew and turned into Poly Royal. In 1994, it was renamed Cal Poly Open House.
The spring of 1933 marked the beginning of Poly Royal and the now famous parade. The event featured livestock judging, agriculture shows, horticulture exhibits and a BBQ according to the Open House Web site.
In the ensuing years after its inception, Poly Royal added annual themes, a guest of honor each year, Admitted Students’ Preview Day, the selection of the Poly Royal Queen and the ever-popular parade, according to the Open House Web site.
Though many of the traditional events are still held, the ASI concert and dance held by ASI at the end of every Poly Royal is a tradition no longer upheld and missed by some alumni.
“The ASI concerts were always my favorites, the student-bands and hired bands were always fun,” said John Furtado, a Cal Poly alumni board member. “The event was less structured then, but the concert is something I miss.”
The event’s popularity steadily grew through the years and eventually became a staple community event of San Luis Obispo that attracted people from all over.
“It was a very community oriented event; it started as early as Thursday and went through the weekend,” Furtado said. “It included the Greek system, academics, clubs and many others and it gave students a chance to discover other majors they wouldn’t even have known about.”
In 1990, Poly Royal met its demise as the popularity of the event swelled to the extent of a 1,000-person riot in the city that prompted the cancellation of the long-standing event.
The spring celebration lay dormant for four years until 1994, when President Warren Baker created the current Cal Poly Open House.
“It’s (Open House) a balance of the missions of The Farmers Picnic, Poly Royal and the showcase of Cal Poly academics,” said Nicole Stivers, a journalism senior and public relations director for Cal Poly Open house.
Though broken in its timeline, Cal Poly Open House is a history-rich unique event that has been a staple of Cal Poly for more than 100 years.
“We are the only state school that puts on and event like this that is entirely run by a student committee,” Stivers said. “Other students use our event as a guide and students from Arizona State University came last year to look at our unique event.”