Purdue Spring Fest | Free Family Event Only 1 Hour From Indy

Purdue Spring Fest | Free Family Event Only 1 Hour From Indy

Pack up the kids in the car and head up to Purdue University for Purdue Spring Fest on April 13, 2024! This is the most kid-friendly event for school-aged children who are interested in STEAM or who could be introduced to STEAM in a fun and exciting way. Put on by the Purdue College of Agriculture, Purdue Spring Fest offers hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and cultural experiences. There are amazing interactive activities and events all day long, including the legendary Bug Bowl!

an adult helps two children create vehicles from little pieces for a steam project at purdue spring fest

Purdue Spring Fest

Imagine if you will, all the science-based majors and fields of study have tables set up on the campus lawn, under tents, with activities for kids to do to learn more about science, technology, engineering, arts, and cultural experiences. Last year my kids saw bubbles being made that were as big as their stroller. They planted seeds, painted with soils (yes, there are different colors of dirt out there and you can learn more about that from the Agronomy Department), got their faces painted, received free balloons, and so much more.

You will not want to miss this one-day-only event. When you arrive, you will see tents and activity centers set up all over campus, inside and outside. Many tents have maps to hand out telling you where everything is located. Make plans to spend several hours at Purdue Spring Fest because there are endless things to see and do.  Many of the buildings are open with additional activities inside. It was really quite special for the younger kids to experience the inside of real college classrooms and laboratories.

a little boy with protective science goggles sits behind two glass containers ready to perform an experiment. there is a shelf with lots of different plants behind him.

Hands-On Science

Children are welcome to participate in all kinds of experiments and hands-on activities. Are your kids interested in bugs? Then check out the Entomology area where kids can pet a tarantula, fling a cricket, or handle a maggot. Watch elephant toothpaste being made! Be as loud as you can and measure your scream with a noise meter. Make slime and lava lamps. Fly a drone. Experience virtual reality. Seriously, there are like a hundred activities for kids to partake in and it all takes place rain or shine!

Arts & Cultural Experiences

Arts & Cultural experiences have always been a major part of Purdue Spring Fest. While the event is put on by the Purdue College of Agriculture, several schools and organizations participate in providing activities and experiences for everyone. Create some art you can wear by making yourself a plant or insect necklace. Visit the maggot painting table. Race on mini tractor bikes. Climb aboard real farm equipment. Try fencing with complete fencing gear. Visit the Woods on Wheels to learn about our woods and lands. Milk a real cow. Have your name written in Chinese. Practice calligraphy. Contribute to a mural. Taste cricket protein powder. You probably won’t get to everything there is to experience in one day!

an instructor helps a little boy wearing a VR headset and hand controllers at purdue spring fest

Vet Med Open House

Do your kids like animals? Then visit the Purdue Veterinary Medicine Open House and take a tour of the Purdue University Small Animal Hospital. At the Vet Med Open House, you will also find a farm petting zoo set up. You can pet llamas, goats, pigs, turkeys, and cows, and even hold a baby chick. Are your kids interested in becoming a veterinarian? They can practice bandaging a horses broken leg and study X-rays of different animals at the Vet Med Open House. There is a whole slew of activities going on at the vet school with great demonstrations to get your kids excited about learning and seeing what all higher education has to offer.

Horticulture Plant Sale

The annual Horticulture Plant Sale is a great way to take part of Purdue home with you. Pick up a beautiful hanging plant, choose a perennial to plant, or purchase several small annuals to pot. Hopefully, your children will have learned a little bit about agriculture and science at Purdue Spring Fest that they can apply to the care of these plants at home.

rows of colorful plants and hanging plants are inside a large outdoor greenhouse

Legendary Bug Bowl

The Bug Bowl is one of the largest insect festivals in the USA. Preschoolers through retirees take part in hands-on insect activities and a bug zoo. Purdue Spring Fest attendees participate in the “Cockroach Colosseum” race hosted by Bug Bowl co-founder Tom Turpin, who helped establish the Bug Bowl in 1990, to observe the world of entomology through the lens of a cockroach.

Other Events at Purdue

In tandem with Purdue Spring Fest, Purdue University will be hosting the 16th annual Purdue Challenge 5k run/walk, supporting the Purdue University Institute for Cancer Research, and Purdue Aviation Day. April 13th is also the date of a Purdue Boilermakers spring football game, soccer game, and baseball game at home!

a large concrete sculpture and fountain sit in the foreground with the purdue clock tower and a purdue school building in the background

Purdue Football Game

Purdue Football will hit Rohrman Field at Ross-Ade Stadium for the first time in 2024 when the Boilermakers hold a spring game at noon on Saturday, April 13. The event is open to the public, and admission is free. Purdue Football alumni from all generations will join as special guests as part of an alumni reunion weekend. The University will also be hosting a family tailgate before the game from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Parking at Purdue for Spring Fest

Not familiar with the campus? Don’t worry there are plenty of parking garages to park in. Free parking for Purdue Spring Fest is available in the Marstellar Street and Discovery Park parking lots and the Wood Street Parking Garage. The Harrison Street Garage is also available as a paid parking option. Visit Purdue University Parking to view the university’s parking map.

If you have little ones, take a stroller or wear your comfortable walking shoes as you will likely want to stay all day! There are food vendors set up selling lunch, snacks, and drinks if you get hungry. Proceeds will go towards Purdue University programs and organizations.

a toddler is in the stands at the purdue boilermakers stadium watching football

We love Purdue Spring Fest and look forward to it every year. While I may be a little bit partial to the old gold and black, you will definitely want your kids to experience all of the hands-on educational opportunities the campus has to offer. My husband and I both worked Purdue Spring Fest as undergrads and now take our kids as alumni. I’m sure that you’ll love it, even if you aren’t a former Boilermaker! It doesn’t matter if you have toddlers or teenagers, there is sure to be something for everyone. And the best part is that Purdue Spring Fest is FREE!

Purdue University
610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 494-5588
Date: April 13, 2024
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price: Free

a boy sits next to a bronze statue of a man outside a purdue school building at purdue spring fest

Looking for more STEM activities to keep your children engaged? Check out these 15 Outdoor STEM Activities you can do at home. Or, head to Ignite Studio Makerspace and Art Studio to create, build, and play.

Have you been to Purdue Spring Fest? What are your favorite things to do at Purdue Spring Fest? What are your favorite STEAM events or activities? Share your comments and photos with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids in Indy!

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