Published March 15, 2022
With a few exceptions, Spring Fling—a crazy, competitive and fun week of spring activities—was celebrated nearly every year on the Dodge City Community College (DC3) campus from 1972 until at least 2011. And just in time for its 50th anniversary, the college is reviving the tradition with a full week of Spring Fling activities scheduled for April 18-22.
Originally called Spring Fling Whing Ding in 1972—and then Spring Whing Ding Fling from 1973 to 1991—the event’s name was shortened to just Spring Fling in 1992.
Students get ready for the water balloon fight in the grassy area between the north and south parking lots during the inaugural Spring Fling in 1972. [College Archives]
The 1970sThe idea for the first Spring Fling originated with the DC3 Student Senate. According to a Conquistador newspaper article from April 5, 1972, the week was designed for students who were “bored with the daily routine of the old hum-drum way of life” and who needed to just “let go and do what they feel like doing.”
In that newspaper article, which included a schedule of events, the first Fling week ran for five days from Monday, April 10, to Friday, April 14, 1972.
Bob ‘KGNO’ Kirby (left) and Eric ‘KEDD’ Warshaw (right) square off for the DJ duel of the century during the cream-pie fight at the 1972 Spring Fling. [College Archives]
Monday started with a water balloon fight “for everybody (faculty included).” Tuesday was “a resurrection of those old movie flicks starring your favorite 1920 movie idols.” On Wednesday, the Rodeo Agribusiness Club sponsored a “Dress Western Day” that was designed to “bring back a touch of the old West.” Thursday was reserved for “a surprise from the Conq-Ettes,” which was the college’s dance team at the time. And Friday was nurses’ day, which included an off-campus Sadie Hawkins dance at the Warehouse bar. Regarding the dance, the paper notes that “Beer will be served, ID’s will be checked, and the cost will be $1.00 per person…”
Although it’s surprising today to read about the college sponsoring a student event that includes alcohol, it’s important to note that in 1972, the legal drinking age was 18. It would not change to 21 until Jan. 1, 1985.
The following issue of the Conquistador newspaper, dated April 19, 1972, ran a banner headline on page 3 that read “Student Senate Sponsors Swell Spring Fling Whing Ding.” And with the headline and two photos of a Fling cream-pie fight, the page also included a note that said the Student Senate considered Spring Fling “a tremendous success” and that they hoped it would become an “annual affair.”
After the incredible success of the first Spring Fling, the Student Senate decided to go to the proverbial well one more time that calendar year with a six-day Fall Whing Ding Fling, which was organized for Monday, Sept. 11, to Saturday, Sept. 16, 1972.
Fall Fling included some of the same events, but also touted a pep assembly led by the Conq-Ettes and tug-of-war contests that pitted the football players against the male instructors and the female students against the female instructors and secretaries.
The winners from the first two contests were the male instructors and the female students, respectively. And in the final tug-of-war match between the two sets of winners, the female students were declared the overall champions.
However, in spite of the spirited competition, Fall Fling failed to measure up to its spring counterpart, and the DC3 Student Senate cancelled the following year’s event about two weeks prior to its planned early October date, citing a “lack of club organization and participation.”
The second year for reasons unknown today, Spring Fling Whing Ding was retitled Spring Whing Ding Fling. It was originally planned for Monday, April 9, through Friday, April 13, 1973. However, due to an unexpected storm dumping 3 inches of snow on April 9, Spring Fling was rescheduled for Thursday, April 12, through Wednesday, April 18.
With some of the same events as the first year—a three-legged race, a gunnysack race, a tricycle obstacle course, a cowchip throwing contest, and a bottle-filling contest—there also were some new events such as a tire-rolling contest, a jellybean-guessing contest, a flour-bag-throwing contest, and an empty beer can collection contest.
A tire-rolling contest was one of the new events for Spring Fling 1973. [College Archives]
For the winner of the beer can contest, he or she received a case of beer from Student Senate. This unusual prize was described in the school newspaper as “a new form of recycling.” Other contest prizes included a tank of gas, show tickets and a free meal.
Also planned for April 1973 were skateboard races, a school picnic, a dance in the Student Union Ballroom (with the band Pagan Ballet), a concert in the Little Theatre (with the band Cannon Creek), an Easter egg hunt on the president’s lawn, and an orange relay.
A front-page Conquistador newspaper article from April 3, 1974, advertised the schedule for the third-annual Spring Fling, which was planned for Monday, April 1, through Friday, April 5. The article began with “Fellow students, are you tired of the dull, dreary occurrences of college life? SAC [Social Activities Council] has again come through with a week of madness, idiocy, and general hell-raising, more commonly known as Spring Whing Ding Fling Week.”
SAC, which was a standing committee within the Student Senate, planned several new events for 1974. Some of these new activities included wagon races on the campus sidewalks, one of which resulted in a “four-wagon pileup;” a pie-throwing contest that utilized whipped cream and shaving cream; a dunk tank; a blood drive, where each donor received a coupon for a free beer; a roller skating party; a greased-pig contest; a movie shown in the Choral Room of the Fine Arts building; and a “potato race.”The newspaper described the potato race as a “race which consists of placing a potato in a spoon in your mouth and racing over a predetermined course. This is definitely not recommended for those of you who do not use Poli-Grip!”
The week of Spring Fling 1975 ran Monday, April 7, through Friday, April 11. And according to the April 9, 1975, Conquistador newspaper, new that year was a Jell-O Snarfing Contest in the cafeteria (advertised as “an interesting alternative to the lunchroom meal”), a peanut race (where students pushed a peanut across the floor with their noses), and kite flying.
Spring Whing Ding Fling 1976 ran from Tuesday, April 20, through Friday, April 23. Back for its second year was the Jell-O Snarfing Contest, which was now joined with an M&M toss. This new challenge consisted of students trying to catch as many as possible of the 50 M&Ms candies that their partners were throwing to them.
Also new that year was a phone-booth stuffing contest, a banana-eating contest, a raw-egg catching contest, and a pit barbecue at Lake Charles.
In 1977, Spring Fling ran Monday, April 18, through Friday, April 22, and Monday was designated that year as “Grubbyday.” As explained in the April 6, 1977, Conquistador newspaper, it was a day where students should “dress as grubbily as possible.”
In addition to Grubbyday, new events included a surfing contest, a teacher roast, calf roping, a swimsuit contest, and a leg contest.
Students compete in a tug-of-war contest south of the Physical Education building during Spring Fling 1976. [College Archives]
Spring Fling 1978, which included many of the same events as 1977, also included an obstacle course, wall repelling, a 1950s themed dance, and a spoon contest.
According to the 1978 Golden Shield yearbook, the spoon contest “consisted of a spoon attached to a long string” that must be passed through each team member’s clothing.And the final event of Fling week 1978 was the Conq Ball dance.
The 1980sAfter a missed year in 1979, “due to student apathy and the weather,” the April 2, 1980, Conquistador newspaper ran a short article entitled “Fling springs again” about the SAC’s efforts to revive the event.
So, the 1980 Spring Fling was scheduled for a single day, which was Thursday, April 17. New that year was the Lifesaver race, where each team member was given a toothpick and then required to pass a Lifesaver candy from one person to another—toothpick to toothpick—without using their hands.
A tug-of-war contest was also organized at Lake Charles, which by design resulted in several students ending up in the water and mud. And the night ended with a dance in the Student Union Ballroom with the band Purple Express covering popular hits.
Spring Fling 1982, which was planned for Monday, April 26, through Friday, April 30, involved the usual sorts of contests and competitions, although a watermelon feast was added. According to the April 21, 1982, Conquistador newspaper, the estimated cost of that year’s Spring Fling would be around $3,000.
The article also stated that “topping the week is the formal affair of the Conq Ball. This year it is being held Friday evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Scheduled to entertain is the band Doubletake. No alcohol is allowed.”
In addition to the live music at the Conq Ball, the 1982 Golden Shield yearbook records that there were also two other nights of concerts that year. The first was on Monday night in the “natural amphitheater” on the east side of the Physical Education building. It featured the bands Sheik and Bluebird. The second was a performance of Purple Express on Thursday night in the Little Theatre.
Students enjoy mud volleyball during the 1987 Spring Fling. [College Archives]
In 1984, Spring Fling was planned for Monday, April 30, through Friday, May 4. And it also again featured a concert with the band Bluebird. However, according to the 1984 Golden Shield yearbook, the concert was planned for earlier in the evening than the previous year because of “last year’s citation issued to the Student Senate for disturbing the peace.”
Spring Fling activities for 1984 included some new twists, such as a scavenger hunt that had students looking for 25 different things within an hour. Items ranged from a graded math assignment to a receipt from Dillons or Wal-Mart for the amount of $1.20.
On Wednesday of Fling week, eight teams competed for gold-colored medals in the first-ever Superteam Competition. Each team, which was made up of three men and three women, competed in a myriad of events including a pie-eating contest, a shopping-cart race, an obstacle course, a water-balloon toss, and an “apple dunk,” which was described in the yearbook as three team members stepping into “a water-filled horse tank to grab apples with their knees, while three others took the apples in their mouths and dropped them into a trashcan for the last event.”
Also new for Spring Fling 1984 was the crowning of both a king and a queen at the Conq Ball, which was held at the Holiday Inn Holidome. Eldon Clark Jr., a sophomore from Minneapolis, Kan., and Patsy Stegman, a sophomore from Dodge City, were elected king and queen.
On Wednesday of the 1985 Fling week, the Superteam Competition returned for its second year, adding new challenges. Contests that year included a blindfolded lemon-cream-pie feeding contest, a shopping-cart relay, and an obstacle course. In addition, on Thursday, mud volleyball was added to that day’s festivities.
For the 1986 Spring Fling, which was planned for Monday, April 21, through Friday, April 25, new attractions were again added. One of these included Hawaiian Night, which included a best and worst tan contest, a best tourist contest, and a marshmallow-eating contest.
For that year, the Conq Ball was moved to Tuesday night, with a “Paradise Island” theme. And the live band was called The Heat.
And for its third year, the Superteam Competition returned with events such as a shopping cart race, a blindfolded football kick, a tricycle race, an apple dunk, and an egg relay.
Another new attraction for Spring Fling 1986 was an Air Band Contest on Friday night, which boasted prizes for the top three placings: $150 for first, $100 for second, and $50 for third.
Spring Fling 1987 was planned for Monday, April 20, through Friday, April 24. And with the exception of an updated slate of contests for the Superteam Competition, it looked much the same as 1986. Superteam contests for 1987 included tug-of-war, a blindfolded football kick, a wheelbarrow race, a blindfolded banana-eating contest, and stock-tank apple dunking.
The band Purple Express performs behind the Student Union at Spring Fling 1988. [College Archives]
Although feather pillows were not allowed in the 1988 pillow fight, someone clearly didn’t follow directions! [College Archives]
Highlights of Spring Fling 1988 included the Superteam Competition and a pillow fight in the Physical Education gym.
The 1990sAfter skipping a year in 1990, Spring Fling was revived by the DC3 Student Senate, in 1991, for the week of Monday, April 22, through Friday, April 26. And the following year, in 1992, Spring Whing Ding Fling would officially shorten its name to Spring Fling.
The DC3 Student Ambassadors pose during the 1991 Air Band Contest. [College Archives]
In either 1992 or 1993, the planning of Spring Fling migrated from the Student Senate to the DC3 Housing Department, and the scope of the week began to change from an all-student bash to an event geared mostly toward residence-hall students.
Under the management of the Housing Department, Spring Fling 1993 was scheduled for Monday, April 26, through Friday, April 30. It was described in the April 21, 1993, Conquistador newspaper as a “mini-Olympics with 10 events for students to participate in.”
Like the previous Superteam Competitions in the 1980s, some of the 1993 Spring Fling activities were designed for teams of six people—three men and three women. And the list of team contests included a peanut race (in which contestants pushed a peanut across the floor with their noses), a baseball bat race, a three-point shooting contest, a volleyball match, a cow-patty toss, an egg toss, a balloon toss, a three-legged race, an ice-cream eating contest, and a jalapeño-eating contest.
In 1994, the Housing Department again sponsored Spring Fling, and it closely mirrored the previous year’s pattern.
In 1995, the DC3 Student Senate voted to transition to a Student Government Association (SGA) over the course of the next two years. Thus, SGA became responsible for the planning of Spring Fling in 1998.
Due to a week of rainy weather, many of the scheduled outdoor events for 1998 had to be cancelled. However, at least two new events were presented, which were dodgeball and a PlayStation contest.
The 2000sFor the next few years, limited records were kept in the college archives regarding Spring Fling. However, the April 25, 2001, Conquistador newspaper records that Spring Fling activities that year included powderpuff football and a Hawaiian luau.
The 2008 Spring Fling, which SGA planned for Monday, April 28, through Friday, May 2, was given the theme of “Spring into Summer.” Amongst the week’s activities were: (Monday) a trash cleanup on U.S. Hwy. 50; (Tuesday) the showing of the movie “I am Legend” in Sites-Franklin Hall; (Wednesday) a performance by hypnotist, Daniel James, in the Student Union Ballroom; (Thursday) a pool tournament in the Conq Corral snack bar; and (Friday or “Water Day”) a water slide and dunk tank behind Shelden Hall.
According to college Facebook posts, the 2010 Spring Fling was dubbed “2K10.” That year’s events included a showing of the “Blind Side” movie on April 27 and a dunk tank on April 28, amongst other activities.
And the last mention of Spring Fling in the college archives was from 2011. That year, the Spring Fling T-shirts featured a Scooby-Doo/Mystery Machine theme, and activities were planned for Monday, April 4, through Friday, April 8.
According to college Facebook posts, 2011 contests included the Money Tree Game Show, three-on-three basketball, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, bingo, Bongo Ball Mania (paintball without the paint) and make-your-own T-shirts.
Students play Bongo Ball Mania in the Physical Education gym. [College Archives]
So, after 39 years of crazy hijinks, Spring Fling quietly disappeared from the student calendar after 2011. Although listed in the Jan. 23, 2012, SGA meeting minutes—as an upcoming event scheduled for Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27—there is no further mention of the event in the Feb. 27, 2012, minutes.
Due to organizational changes within SGA at the time, it is entirely possible that the 2012 Fling never materialized. And according to the recollections of campus faculty and staff, there were no weeklong spring bashes of any kind after 2011. However, there were a few small “Spring Fling” days and afternoons scheduled during that period, and an End-of-the-Year Carnival behind Jackson Hall was organized by DC3 Residence Life in 2017 and 2018.
So, regardless of whether the last weeklong Spring Fling was in 2011 or 2012, the next one is scheduled for April 18-22, which will be its 50th anniversary. Like its predecessors, the 2022 Spring Fling will undoubtedly include some of the tried-and-true activities of the past—but it will also add some new twists that will make it unique, memorable and relevant for today’s DC3 students.
By Lance ZieschDC3 Assistant Director of Marketing and Community Relations