In the fall of 1950, some concerned Duke students decided that campus life needed a weekend that would be "the highlight of the social year." The weekend, scheduled between spring break and final exams, would include music, dancing, and a parade with floats.
Dubbed "Joe College," the weekend quickly proved to be a hit with students, but not always with administrators, who were concerned about time away from studies and the potential for heavy drinking. Joe College drew entertainers and bands, ranging from Duke alumnus Les Brown '36 and His Band of Renown to Duke Ellington to Linda Ronstadt.
Hoof 'n' Horn usually presented a musical comedy, and living groups held open houses as part of the events. The weekend began with float-building parties, followed by a parade around the East Campus wall and onto surrounding streets.
After the Woman's College merged with Trinity in 1972, the name and format of Joe College began to change. For several years, it became known as "Joe Baldwin" and was organized by the Baldwin Federation. Starting in 1976, Springfest adopted several Joe College traditions. Today, the Springternational festival continues the custom of a pre-finals break.