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Mai Fete

Mai Fete: A Historical Perspective

Mai Fete is one of two islands located on the Lyman Lakes. The island earned its moniker for playing host to the annual Mai Fete pageant, a Carleton tradition that began in 1918. Carleton's annual "Mai Fete" dance pageants, beginning before WWI, reached the height of their popularity in the '20s and '30s. The elaborately orchestrated pageants, accompanying the coronation of a May Queen selected by the College's women students, regularly drew thousands of spectators to the hillsides overlooking the island stage on lower Lyman Lakes.

Most women on campus took part in the pageants in one way or another, and one reviewer termed it "the most beautiful and impressive event of its kind in the Northwest." Traditional-style May pageants continued through the '50s, but eventually yielded to changing tastes and are replaced, first by a weekend arts festival and then by an annual concert of student bands.

Currently, Mai Fete is hosted by members of the senior class, on most Wednesday nights during spring term. An event by seniors, for seniors, Mai Fete provides an opportunity for students to gather on Mai Fete Island and celebrate their final term together.


Host Responsibilities

Student hosts must understand and accept the following conditions:

Event Sponsors...

  • must complete the online Event Registration Form (bottom of this page) and understand its implications and the legal responsibility they are assuming by hosting an event on College property;
  • must accept responsibility for abiding by all College policies, State laws, and Federal laws;
  • take personal responsibility in ensuring their event proceeds in a reasonable and safe manner;
  • assume responsibility for their own actions and the actions of their guests;
  • should call Security if assistance is needed during their event;
  • are responsible for making sure that Mai Fete Island is cleaned and returned to its original condition at the conclusion of their event; and
  • are liable for any resulting damage and/or clean-up charges if the individual(s) responsible cannot be identified.


Regulations When Alcohol is Present

  • Carleton College's policy on alcohol and other drugs is available here.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages and food must be available in reasonable quantities for the duration of the event (The Student Activities Office will supply pizza). Funds to help support this requirement may be available through the CSA "Alternative Beverage Fund". Visit the CSA website for more information.
  • Hosts must remain sober throughout the event.
  • Hosts should not serve intoxicated persons and should, if appropriate, remove such people from the premises.
  • A carding system, located at the bridge to the island, is required to exclude uninvited guests and identify those of legal drinking age.
  • The Student Activities Office will provide wristbands for identifying those of legal drinking age.
  • Open containers of alcohol must be kept on Mai Fete Island.
  • The provisions of Northfield city ordinances and laws of Minnesota and the United States, including the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226), shall govern. The College prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on College property or as part of any College activities.


Additional Information

  • Host applications are due no later than Monday, April 14.
  • As in previous years, all dates without three confirmed hosts will be cancelled. At least two of the three hosts from each group are required to meet with the Student Activities Office prior to their event.
  • Mai Fete dates are assigned to members of the senior class in order they are received; we will do our best to accommodate each group.
  • All hosts must be in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • All Mai Fetes must conclude by 11:00 p.m. and event hosts must be off the island by 11:15 p.m.
  • Mai Fetes may be delayed or canceled due to inclement weather
  • Questions? Contact Jessica VanZuilen in the Student Activities Office for more information


Seniors interested in hosting a Mai Fete, may log-on to complete the event registration form at the bottom of this page. Once hosts are confirmed, they will be added to the list below.


The following dates are available:


April 16 (3rd week):

April 23 (4th week):

April 30 (5th week):

May 7 (6th week): Page West (Matthew Fitzgerald, Ellie Schmidt, Grace Zahrah)

May 14 (7th week):

May 21 (8th week):

May 28 (9th week): Varsity Football (Nicholas Herringer, Chase Gottschalk, Conor Lynch)


Don't see the form? Click the "log-in" button at the bottom left hand side of this page.

    This form is closed.

    Submissions to this form were closed on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 at 12:00:00 AM.