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History of Varieties

Varieties has been showcasing the talent of Iowa State students for more than 80 years. Performances consist of 16-20 minute "mini-musicals" that are performed with original lyrics and choreography. Shorter acts, called vignettes, perform as well. A vignette consists of any talent that a student may have, from belly dancing to stand-up comedy. In this way, Varieties serves as Iowa State University's student talent show!

ALL students are encouraged to participate by either sharing their talents or assisting with the Varieties Committee. The SUB Varieties Committee organizes and produces this popular campus entertainment. They choose the overall theme, assist with skits and vignettes, and coordinate all aspects related to the performance.

85 Years of Tradition

1931/1932

Mortar Board originates a new program called Campus Varieties introduced with the definite purpose of utilizing the new (3 year old) Memorial Union to offer free entertainment to students during the depression years.Every Friday night for 10 weeks of the Winter Quarter, the Great Hall filled with people eager to see the one and a half hour stage shows. The talent was all from the campus and the city of Ames and ranged from dances, to vocal or instrumental music, to one act skits.

1933

Success promoted the tradition to be confirmed. The University found sponsorship as a part of their responsibilities of the Memorial Union Council.

1935

The Memorial Union Council joined in to help with the sponsorship.

1943

The Memorial Union Council withdraws sponsorship to help with the war effort.

1947

Student Union Board assumes the responsibility of sponsorship so the tradition can continue.

Times were changing and Student Union Board saw a need to make some formal changes.

1948

The Student Union Board turned the entire ten week series into a judged competition.

1950

Varieties was consolidated from ten weeks to five weeks of four different skits each week.

1951

Student Union Board chose to again change the judging process by eliminating a clear out winner. They instead were asked to pick the top five skits. These skits then went on to perform at the annual VEISHEA celebration in an event called Veishea Vaudeville.

Varieties ran in this manner for the next 7 years until, once again, things began to change.

1958

Student Union Board reinstated the overall winner concept. A carved wooden traveling trophy was fashioned and was named the Sweepstakes Trophy.

1960

The organization of the shows went through its first major change in ten years. One of the five nights of competition was replaced by finals where the top acts compete directly for the Sweepstakes Trophy.

1963

The competition took on its present form. In the preliminary competition, three nights of three skits each replaced four nights of four skits each. Three skits instead of four advanced to the finals, in which was named Sweepstakes.

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