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UH Frontier Fiesta Collection

Identifier: 1996-003

This collection contains paper records related to Frontier Fiesta, dating from 1941 to 2011, with a bulk from the 1950s. Materials have been arranged by series, and chronologically within each. Materials found in this collection include programs, newspaper clippings, financial records, contracts, applications, rules and regulations, show scripts, correspondence, and photographs

Series 7 contains digital archival materials produced in 2014.


  • 1941-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1952-1959


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


5.0 linear feet

Historical Information

The original Frontier Fiesta was only presented in 1940 and 1941 and conceived by Dr. Kemmerer, who later became president. The monies raised at the first Fiesta, $2,000, contributed to the construction of a campus recreation building. During World War II Frontier Fiesta took a hiatus, but resumed with vigor in 1946. Frontier Fiesta was held in “Fiesta City,” which was built each year by students. The buildings each housed different productions. Concessions and contests, including a beard growing contest, were also part of the events.

During its heyday Frontier Fiesta would attract as many as 100,000 people to the UH campus including celebrities and visitors from all over the nation. The 1955 Fiesta signed over a check for $106,000 to help pay for the University’s swimming pool. By the early 1950s Frontier Fiesta had been proclaimed as the “Greatest College Show on Earth.”

For a variety of reasons, probably including students missing classes and concerns about budget management, Frontier Fiesta was discontinued after 1959. Although briefly replaced in 1961 by Cougar Capers, it would be 33 years before Frontier Fiesta would return to the University of Houston. In 1992 a group of alumni joined an energetic group of student leaders to resurrect the long-gone tradition. This group along with the University of Houston's Athletic Department brought Fiesta back to the campus where it had begun. Frontier Fiesta celebrates everything that makes the University of Houston important to the Houston community today – the talent and leadership ability of its students, the opportunity to educate Houston’s future leaders, and scholarship opportunities for deserving students.

Technical Requirements

Digital archival materials can be accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room by advance request. These materials may require up to one week to access. Contact curator Mary Manning ( for more information.

Acquisition Information

Digital archival materials acquired 2014.

Digital Collections

University of Houston Frontier Fiesta digital collection

University of Houston Frontier Fiesta AV collection

Guide to the UH Frontier Fiesta Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA