This year’s College Royal celebrant, second-year OAC student Sarah Brien, is all set to welcome the more than 30,000 visitors expected to turn out for College Royal open house weekend March 20 and 21. Photo by Martin Schwalbe

“Dream Big, Dream Royal.” That’s the theme of the University of Guelph’s 86th annual College Royal. And a big event it is.

“We are the largest student-run university open house in North America,” says fourth-year OAC student Katie Bloetjes, head of public relations for College Royal. “We have an executive of 90 students plus about 3,000 volunteers.”

Second-year DVM student Amy Thomson, president of College Royal, adds that the event is, in fact, bigger than most people realize. “We actually run for 12 days,” she says.

Events kick off March 10 with the College Royal Pub, followed by a fashion show March 12, the College Royal Ball March 13 and Super Thursday March 18. That all leads up to the open house weekend March 20 and 21, which is expected to draw more than 30,000 visitors.

“For those two days, we take over the whole campus to showcase everything that’s going on,” says Thomson. “College Royal may have started out as an aggie event, but it has gone way beyond that now. We have displays and activities from every department.”

She says organizers try to build on the event’s history and traditions by adding or expanding each year, and 2010 is no exception. One of her goals this year was to make the campus more visitor-friendly.

“We don’t want people to miss any of the really great things that are going on, so we’re putting up big street signs to help orient everyone.”

Those signs will lead visitors to a host of displays and events that will appeal to all ages, says Thomson.

For children, there are lots of activities such as the Chemistry Magic Show, a tractor rodeo, teddy bear surgery and Old MacDonald’s New Farm, she says.

“There’s also plenty to interest students, including the livestock show, club displays and the pancake flip contest, which is running both Saturday and Sunday this year. And for adults, there are lectures that offer a chance to learn something new in an interesting way.”

Other perennial favourites include the cat and dog shows, square dancing, logging competitions and the flower-arranging contest.

“I think everyone will find something to enjoy and something that will make them proud to be connected to U of G,” says Thomson.

One person you can expect to see popping up all over campus throughout the weekend is College Royal celebrant Sarah Brien, a second-year OAC student who will be called on to open various events.

“I’m really privileged to be this year’s celebrant,” says Brien. “So much work goes into College Royal behind the scenes, and so many people give up hours and hours of their time to make it happen. I’m planning to make it out to all the events.”

She’s especially looking forward to the ball. “I love seeing the University Centre decked out with all the decorations, and I think I’ll appreciate it even more than I did last year because now I know how much work went into it.”

A complete schedule of open house events will be available on campus and online at

In conjunction with College Royal weekend, Curtain Call Productions will present the musical satire Reefer Madness March 17 to 20 in War Memorial Hall, and fine art students will host their annual art show and sale in Zavitz Hall.