Lord and Lady Tarleton

While there are many activities held during Founder’s Week, May Fete is a one of a kind event. It is rich in Tarleton history, dates back over 100 years, and holds high anticipation every year. 

Founder’s Week is held annually in April to honor Tarleton’s founder, John Tarleton. Founder’s Day Celebration originated in 1902, held each November to coincide with Tarleton’s birthday. Throughout the years, Founder’s Day has grown into a week-long event, including events like May Fete, Silver Taps, Grab a Grassburr, and many more activities that honor Tarleton history and spirit. 

May Fete began as an annual pageant organized by Margaret Bierschwale on May 5, 1921. Women would compete for the title of “May Queen.” Each year, May Fete was held with a different and colorful theme. Contestants wore formal attire accented with floral accessories. A traditional event that took place was the wrapping of the “May Pole,” in which dancers moved in a synchronized pattern while winding ribbon around a central post. 

A committee of five students and five faculty members selected the winner and informed the participant of the results in advance. Criteria for May Queen was based on beauty, poise, personality, posture, and academics. The election results were kept a secret until the coronation, the queen was to refrain from boasting about her honor. Every year, the May Queen received a full page photo in the Tarleton Grassburr. May Fete disappeared around the 1940’s in sight of the war, but was revived in 2009 by the Tarleton Ambassadors. 

Although May Fete has evolved throughout the years, there are still many elements that honor its rich history. Today’s May Fete is a pageant in which Lord and Lady Tarleton are selected and crowned based on their experiences that reflect Tarleton’s Core Values. Contestants are asked a series of questions that reflect their knowledge of Tarleton and appreciation for the university. Participants are commonly seen at May Fete adorned in attire that represents the fashion of the 1920’s, honoring the history of May Fete. The event takes place in Heritage Park. Individuals still participate in wrapping brightly colored ribbons around the oak trees of the park.

Founder’s Week is full of history, tradition, and activities. Join Tarleton this spring to get a peek into the rich history of May Fete and watch the crowning of the 2023 Lord and Lady Tarleton. If you are lucky, you can take a trip back in time by participating in the wrapping of the trees!