Imagine this ? you walk into Douglass for dinner expecting to see the cloud walls, wrinkled copies of The Buzz and plastic trays abound, but instead the lights are turned off, in the center of the room sits a high table adorned with holiday wreathes, candles light the long tables, shields hanging overhead, and torches lining the entryway ? and that’s only the beginning.
Sixty-seven years ago the Men’s College on the new River Campus was looking for something exciting to liven up the good ol’ Rochester winters. Sound familiar? Their solution was the Boar’s Head Dinner.
Beyond a really good dinner, you are getting a night of entertainment and memories seldom found from other campus traditions. Heralded by a brass quintet, faculty members are introduced with old English names like the “Earl of Economics” and the “Archduchess of Art History.” Even the President and Provost attend, processing with torches in hand, dressed in royal garb.
The University Choir sings a song to announce each course as it is presented before the high table.
At each table sits a faculty member and student host, there to help serve you the Boar’s Head Fest ? Minestrone soup, Pork Roast Normandy with Madeira Sauce, Roasted Breast of Turkey with Apple Walnut Stuffing and Gravy, Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary, Vegetables and Black Forest Cake.
The Strong Jugglers, dressed as medieval jesters, entertain throughout the dinner with sword juggling, fire eating and their usual shenanigans.
The highlight for many is the reading of the history of the Boar. This year, psychology professor Richard Ryan will have the honor of telling the 700 or so attendees, his rendition of how the Boar’s Head Dinner supposedly began at Queen’s College, Oxford in the 16th century. Past faculty storytellers have included Celia Applegate, Harold Stanley, Theodore Brown and Robert Foster. Not only is the dinner a great time for students to get together but it’s also great for faculty to see student life in action and become part of the tradition.
The boar’s head processional, also part of the dinner tradition, is where an actual boar’s head is passed from one student group to another.
This year the Association for Development of Interest in The Indian subcontinent will pass the coveted award to the student organization they feel has done the most to promote student life on campus in the past year. When all is said and done, dessert is served and the carols begin. Sung last, and most tearfully to the senior class, is The Genesee.
Ticket sales start at 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 for the first 100 seniors, and 10 p.m. for the remainder of students.
Back in the 1980s, students waited in line for up to six hours in the cold and snow outside of Wilson Commons, but now you have the luxury of waiting inside of Douglass Dining Center where you can even do homework while you wait. My advice ? line up early to be sure you get a seat. Tickets are limited and always sell out. Besides all the great food and song, entertaining jugglers and company of friends, you even get to keep the commemorative mug!
Now sponsored by the Campus Activities Board, the Boar’s Head Dinner has remained a tradition at UR for 66 years because it is such a unique and elaborate event too good to miss. While it’s difficult to take advantage of everything on campus, Boar’s Head is so memorable becaue it isn’t like anything else you can find at any other school. Why would anyone want to miss something so intriguing and so fun?
Speaking on behalf of the thousands of students, faculty, and alumni who had a great time ? get your friends or your hall together and go. You may just find there is something to do on campus.
Rotach is a member of the Campus Activities Board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.