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Spring Fling promises deep-fried carnival fun

Annual student-run event is the largest in nation

A neon-colored slide towered over the University of Arizona mall Wednesday and the smell of fresh popcorn wafted across the campus. The temporary mall additions were a teaser of the fun, food, and games that will accompany this year’s annual Spring Fling.

The student-run carnival opens Thursday at 4 p.m. at Rillito Downs and runs through Sunday evening at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 all weekend, but free to with CatCard-carrying UA students, children under 7 and those with a military ID.

The Spring Fling is the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's biggest annual fundraiser. It has been a UA tradition for 35 years.

The proceeds of the event are funneled back into the student clubs that participate. UANews reported that the carnival generates $30,000 to $40,000. Each club has a different prerogative for participating.

The UA Japanese Association got a head start on raising awareness for their club by passing out flyers and collecting donations.

Their Spring Fling booth will sell Teriyaki chicken and green tea. In addition to raising money for their club, 10 percent of their profit will be donated to the Red Cross Society’s effort to aid victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

“I like to meet new people,” said Teruhisa Kusuka a club member and UA Spanish and Portuguese and Latin American studies senior.

It’s an opportunity to share our club and our Japanese culture, Kusuka said.

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In addition to club booths, the carnival will feature more than 25 rides and games and 20 food vendors cooking up everything from Sonoran hot dogs to deep-fried candy bars.

“This is the largest student-run carnival in the nation,” said Ashley Saindon, the event’s media director and UA senior.

It takes a team of eight directors, their assistants, planning committees and street team months of planning to pull off the carnival. In total, Saindon estimates there are 2,000 to 2,500 students involved. They organize marketing, security, and ticket sales among other jobs.

Many of the directors, including Saindon, started off as members of the street teams and worked their way up to leadership positions.

Throughout her years involved with the Spring Fling, she has heard one constant phrase from hopeful attendees: “I can’t wait to get a deep-fried Twinkie.”

This year's Spring Fling will feature live performances from student clubs, like the a capella male group Catcall, and retro acts like 80’s and Gentleman. A full list of performances can be found at the Spring Fling website.

Last year’s Spring Fling was dampened by wet weather and had to close on Saturday because of a rainstorm. The forecast for this year is calling for a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday, but partly cloudy to sunny skies Friday and Sunday, according to the Weather Channel.

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Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.com

Linda Nguyen and Fernando Villa, Tucson High School juniors, take a turn on the giant slide set up on the UA Mall on Wednesday.

If you go

  • What: Spring Fling carnival
  • Where: Rillito Downs, 4502 N. First Ave.
  • When: 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
  • Admission: $5, free with CatCard, military ID, or children under 7

For more information visit the Spring Fling Facebook page.


  • Thursday: Wristband night. $25 for unlimited rides. There will be a coupon in the Daily Wildcat for a two for one wristband coupon or bring four canned food items for $5 off a wristband. High school students free with student ID.
  • Friday: Wristband night. $25 for unlimited rides, bring four canned food items for $5 off a wristband.
  • Saturday: Free admission from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday: Free admission with an alumni membership ID or a donation of two children's books from noon to 8 p.m. Last chance ride wristbands for $15.