Celebrating Our Traditions

Founders Day

Charter Day was first set aside in 1909 to remember the past of the Normal School and to memorialize John Bidwell and distinguished deceased members of the faculty and trustees. A highlight of this first Charter Day was the donation by Annie Bidwell of two acres of land between the school and the creek. Dr. Van Liew, president of the Normal School, reported that "similar days are observed by Stanford and the University of California and are certainly uplifting and inspiring occasions."

The modern Founders Day is celebrated on or around April 8, the date Chico was selected for the school's location. The celebration reminds us of the history of the school, celebrates its growth and development from normal school to state university, and looks forward to an exciting future.

The Chico Experience Week

The Chico Experience Week aims to bring Chico State students, alumni, parents, and friends together for 10 days of fun, education, and reconnection with friends, the campus, and the wonderful City of Chico. Whether you already live in Chico or haven't been back in a while, you are sure to enjoy The Chico Experience!

Sponsored by the Chico State Alumni Association, The Chico Experience Week will tie together the campus and local organizations and businesses in order to create a menu of activities for a wide range of audiences.

Anniversary Celebrations

Over the years Chico State has celebrated many anniversaries. The 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1937 with the purchase of athletic field from Chico Board of Education. In 1962 the 75th anniversary was celebrated with a convocation, speakers, and musical performances. Dr. Harold Taylor was the featured speaker; as part of the 75th Anniversary portraits of the presidents were presented to the college and were hung in Kendall Hall. The 100th anniversary was celebrated in 1987. A new logo was created by Professor Gregg Berryman to commemorate the event. The 125th anniversary celebration was celebrated in 2012 beginning a number of new traditions such as the aerial "Big C" class photo.

Pioneer Days

Around 1915, Chico Normal School launched an innovative advertising campaign that included articles in local newspapers describing "the Normal, its activities, and its new opportunities." A new event, Senior High School Day, encouraged enrollment in Chico Normal.

In 1925, Senior Day was combined with Whiskerino Day, and four years later became Pioneer Days. The spring celebration included a parade and election for Sheriff and Little Nell.

Pioneer Days was expanded to an entire week in 1947 and included costumes, speeches, skits, quad projects, and the Ghost Town Concert. The celebration was initially a focus of campus student organizations, especially fraternities and sororities, but became a major annual event for many people, both on campus and in the community. From the 1950s through the 1980s the celebration attracted more and more people from out of town, and unfortunately, problems and criminal acts became more frequent, including intoxication, sexual assault, and vandalism.

In April 1987, a riot erupted with bonfires in the streets, overturned cars, and widespread violence over two nights. A month later, President Robin Wilson ended Pioneer Days. A community association soon resurrected the tradition, renamed Rancho Chico Days. But three years later, in 1990, two nights of rioting took place, and the celebration was permanently ended by the city of Chico.