MOSCOW — The University of Idaho’s formidable mascot, Joe Vandal, wasn’t always the brawny, manly man he is today. He wasn’t even UI’s first mascot.Empire the Dog holds that honor, circa 1923. Empire was a real dog whose brief reign ended in mystery.
“He was apparently on vacation in Payette, I think, and the story is he was potentially dog-napped,” said Erin Passehl Stoddart, head of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Idaho Library.
“The Vandal,” a small sculpted statue, showed up on campus around that time.
“We call him Creepy Baby Joe in our department,” Stoddart said.
The cherubic boy, fists raised, dressed in an animal skin, first appeared in the 1924 edition of the “Gem of the Mountains” yearbook. You can see it starting Friday in the exhibit “Vandal Traditions,” showcasing UI athletic and spirit traditions this fall at the Third Street Gallery in Moscow City Hall.
The Vandal mascot story (he didn’t get the name “Joe” until the 1950s) is just one of the UI traditions the exhibit examines in depth. Spread across three floors of city hall, items on display will include football trophies from different eras and uniforms and spirit clothing from the Leila Old Historic Clothing Collection, including green beanies freshmen were required to wear when UI was established.
“They were only allowed to remove them at games,” Stoddart said.
Besides UI’s football conference history, other programs to be highlighted include women’s volleyball programs, women’s soccer, cross country, band and cheer, and disregarded sports, like boxing. Photographs of homecoming parades, bonfires, royalty and dances will also be on display. A speaker series will complement the exhibit and features talks by UI athletic director Rob Speer on football and music professor Dan Bukvich on UI Marching Band history, among others.
“We’re hoping people will walk away with new knowledge, whether you’re a Vandal or a part of the community,” Stoddart said.
If You Go
WHAT: “Vandal Traditions”
WHEN: Opening reception 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 with light refreshments and a no-host bar.
Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays when University of Idaho has home games.
The exhibit runs through Nov. 27.
WHERE: Third Street Gallery, 206 E. Third St., Moscow
A Vandal Town Block Party is at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 on Main Street.
The “Vandal Traditions” speaker series at the gallery
– 6 p.m. Sept. 28, Kathy Barnard, executive director of UI Alumni Relations and Erin Stoddart, head of UI Special Collections and Archives
– 6 p.m. Oct. 26, Rob Spear, UI athletic director on Vandal football
– 6 p.m. Nov. 16, Dan Bukvich, UI music professor on Marching Band history