THE MAY FETE

The May Fete was an annual pageant held at Centenary College for many years. It centered on a spring celebration, the crowning of a May Queen, and performances by students. These festivals were held every year from 1907 to about 1939.

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The earliest mention of such celebrations at Centenary occurred in the 1907 Hack Yearbook, which introduces the idea of May Day exercises. The entire student body was invited to attend. A may pole was set up on the lawn with ribbons in the class colors and the seniors walked in a procession led by their queen and king. After the procession, decorated booths selling candies and other refreshments were opened. There were games and a special address by one of the professors.

Later the ceremonies were called May Fetes. Celebrating outside on the school’s front lawn, girls dressed in lavish costumes. Photographs we’ve found show the girls dressed as goddesses in Grecian gowns with bands of flowers in their hair, pixies, Robin Hood, and animals.  The number of visitors (alumni, parents, and siblings) reached over a thousand some years. After the pageantry, supper was served on the lawn.

Another part of May Fete at Centenary was the presentation of brass tablets which listed the school’s graduates by class and were then displayed for all to see.

A major highlight of the May Fete was the crowning of the May Queen and King. After the school became all girls, they crowned the May Queen, who in turn chose a court of 8 fellow students, 4 seniors and 4 freshmen. The 1943 May issue of the Spilled Ink (the student newspaper) explains the way the May Queen was chosen; the students voted for the most beautiful senior, and the winner was crowned at a small ceremony during May Fete.

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As years went by the celebration changed. The formal May Fete was cancelled during WWII and we’ve found no records that indicate that it was ever brought back to its former glory. Class Day, an indoor program created by the senior class, seemed to have adopted some of the events of May Fete while other activities such as dance were apparently given their own program. One thing we notice often is how many events there were for the students. There were dances, musical and theatrical performances (given for the students as well as by them), writing competitions, sorority anniversary parties, etc., and many days set aside for the purpose of building relationships with each other. It was very important to the college that its students considered each other family.

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