An annual tradition since 1978, Camptown celebrates spring at Randolph-Macon with music, food and drinks, and games for all.

Sponsored by the Commons Activities Board, Student Government Association, and the Student Engagement Center, this two-day event takes place at the Mary Branch Terrace in April. Stay tuned for 2024 dates!

the origination of the camptown races

Originally an event started by the Town of Ashland, Camptown Races originated in 1953 as a horse racing event to raise funds for the Ashland War Memorial. Dick Gillis, RMC c/o ’40 is credited with the idea.

Held annually on a Saturday in early May, Camptown is first mentioned in the Yellow Jacket Weekly (a student newspaper that evolved into what is now known as “The Yellow Jacket”) in 1957. By the early 1960s, RMC students were both attending in large numbers, as well as assisting with the event that attracted crowds in the thousands. Due to the popularity of the event, the event evolved from a one-day event to a weekend-long celebration.

The Birth of Camptown at RMC

The original Camptown Horse races were discontinued in 1977. In 1978, however, the RMC Student Government Association organized a new campus Camptown celebration featuring live music, sunbathing, and camaraderie.

A black and white photo of a group of men on stage during Camptown.
The RMC SGA brought Camptown to campus in 1978. The celebration featured live-music, sunbathing, and camaraderie.

The Camptown Horse Races returned to Ashland in 1987, and RMC’s Camptown event was re-named to “Springfest.” The second phase of horse racing ended in 2000. Following this ending, RMC’s spring campus celebration re-adorned the name of “Camptown” once again.

Camptown of today

Today, Randolph-Macon College is still host to Camptown. As tradition holds, the event is still hosted in late Spring, usually the end of April or early May. Hosted by RMC’s Commons Activities Board, Student Government Association, and Student Engagement Center, the event is primarily a student event, but is open to the entire Ashland community.

A group of men playing guitar in front of a brick building in Camptown.
In 2023, RMC experienced a Camptown-first! To open the main act, a band made up entirely of RMC students, Pleasant Discomfort, took the stage and performed a variety of covers from popular songs.

The event is held over the course of a full-weekend. On Friday night, RMC’s Mary Branch Terrace becomes home to a live band, and food trucks line up in front of Brock Commons. On Saturday, The Brown Fountain Plaza turns into a carnival, featuring some of your favorite rides, games, and a dunk tank where your favorite faculty & staff line up to take the plunge!

A group of people sitting on benches in front of a Camptown fountain.
On Saturday, Brown Fountain Plaza turns into a carnival! Featuring rides, games, and a dunk tank, students and the Ashland community are invited to enjoy the sunshine and fun festivities.