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History of Varieties

88 Years of Tradition


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


Varieties lived on with many participants and many memories being made with ISU students. Unfortunately, Varieties saw its last show in 2018 due to a lack of participation. SUB thanks everyone that participated in this amazing tradition and while Varieties has reached its end, the memories will last forever.  

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