Just across the street from Main residence hall is the clearly labeled and always lively house of Grinnell’s swimming and diving team, also known as the Fairgrounds. The house is the home to swimmers Emmanuel Spooner ’13, Beck Ringdahl-Mayland ’13, Richard “Tricky Dick Bigs” Bigler ’13, Alex Staff ’13 and diver Allison Miller ’13.
For most Grinnellians, their first impression of Fairgrounds is likely to be the dark, sweaty attic, which has become an infamous tradition in the house.
But recently, the members have invested their time and Spooner’s Lion King bedsheets to create a new spot that has quickly become the focus of the entire house: a blanket fort.
The housemates unanimously agree that the fort is now one of their favorite things about the house. It also received rave reviews from honorary house member and fellow swimmer Pun Winichakul ’13.
“I’m just so happy right now,” Winichakul said when he first experienced the euphoric atmosphere of the blanket fort.
A more permanent but lesser known feature of Fairgrounds is the Jacuzzi tub in the second floor bathroom.
“I used it once. Kind of cool. Elegant,” Ringdahl-Mayland said, the only person brave enough to have used the tub.
As if having all of these amenities was not enough, every member also has his or her own room. Four housemates live on the second floor while Spooner lives on the first. And though he is the lone occupant of the floor, his housemates try to ensure that he never feels too left out.
“I always hear them having dance competitions or stomping around or whatever they’re doing,” Spooner said.
Part of the reason that the group is so close is that every house member is a captain. Ringdahl-Mayland, Spooner and Staff are all swimming captains, while Miller is a diving captain. Bigler has been appointed party captain of the house.
But outside of the pool and the fort, their interests diverge and occasionally clash.
Ringdahl-Mayland has been accused by several of his housemates as having questionable taste in television programs, which include “Amish Mafia” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
“It was once, and I immediately regretted it,” Ringdahl-Mayland claimed.
These television shows are perhaps too mainstream for resident hipster, Miller. Her status as the most hipster of the bunch is unchallenged, but the rankings of the rest are hotly disputed.
“I don’t understand how I’m less hipster than Beck,” Staff protested when being placed last behind Ringdahl-Mayland. “I’m a philosophy major!”
Miller quickly came to Ringdahl-Mayland’s defense, “But he can grow that creepy hipster mustache.”
Despite the great hipster debate, there are some things that the group can unanimously agree on. When asked what their favorite place in the house was prior to the blanket fort, all (except Bigler himself) quickly responded with “Rick’s bed!”
No specific reason was given for why the bed was so beloved.
Fairgrounds is not only home to this group of fun-loving swimmers, though. The place also holds a great deal of history and memorabilia. Throughout the years, the house has accumulated many unique items, which have included old swimming banners, authentic street signs, boxing gloves, a light saber and a swimming trophy from the 1940s.
“It’s just a thrift shop here,” Rigler said.
All of items were warmly welcomed. However, something warm but not quite as welcome was found during a routine attic cleanup.
“One fateful day, I went up there and I called Beck over and I said ‘Beck, is this what I think it is? Is this human feces?’” Spooner recalls.
And indeed it was.
Through the ups and downs, the five fairly grounded members of the house have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the tradition of Grinnell’s swimming and diving team.