One of the rites of spring at Iowa State University opens today. The 87th annual VEISHEA is a week-long celebration on the Ames campus. Event co-chair Elyse Harper, an I.S.U. senior from Woodbine, says the events culminate with the big parade on Saturday morning, followed by VEISHEA Village, where each department is showcased.

There’s free entertainment in the evenings including music, comedy, a hypnotist and an adult circus. Students can test their singing skills at Cyclone Idol or take part in a video game competition — or various sports tournaments. Each of the colleges will be putting up teams in the Extreme Challenge, with events like pie-eating contests, bobbing for apples and relay races. Harper says another highlight of the week is the "Stars Over VEISHEA" musical production.

The show "Gypsy" is being performed in Fisher Theatre at 7:30 P.M. on Wednesday through Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2 P.M. VEISHEA had its image tarnished several years ago with riots on and off campus — and a murder. Harper said VEISHEA officials have worked hard to make sure the spring tradition continues without arrests and violence.

"We really make a lot of strides and efforts to make sure that it’s safe or as safe as possible for all participants," Harper says, "and we really feel confident we’ll have a successful celebration this year." VEISHEA stands for the Iowa State colleges of Veterinary medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics and Agriculture. Complete information on the celebration is on line at: www.veishea.iastate.edu