A Valpo Homecoming tradition has been adapted to bring an exciting and engaging pregame experience to home football games.
The Homecoming Street Fair, taking place at noon before the football game on Sept. 24, offers opportunities for sororities, fraternities, campus organizations and alumni groups to set up tents for a tailgating experience with their members.
“Homecoming Street Fair was started a number of years ago by the Alumni Engagement area, and it really is an opportunity for students to host their alumni that might be affiliated with their organization or fraternity or sorority… We reapplied to the state of Indiana for an alcohol license to be allowed for alcohol to be allowed kind of out in the public there,” said Carrie Whittier, Assistant Vice President for Student Life.
The grove of trees between the ARC and Fitness Center is where both the Street Fair and home game tailgating will take place.
“The alcohol policy, previous to this year, had a clause in it that said alcohol was allowed on campus with the phrase ‘except where students were the primary audience.’ Students were not allowed to tailgate previously because then students would be the primary audience of homecoming weekend… When alcohol was added to the concessions at football and basketball games last year, students are not the primary audience at games, the community is, so students are part of that,” Whittier said. “That phrase was removed from the alcohol policy by action of the board in April of 2022. So that opens up the possibility for students to be able to tailgate prior to games that aren't at homecoming, so the opening home game on Labor Day weekend was the first opportunity to do that.”
Pregame activities for the remaining home games on Oct. 15, Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 will look very similar to the setup from the first home game, which took place on Sept. 3.
“We just want to replicate what we did. We had Student Life and athletics really partnered to create a great experience not only for our students, but for the parents coming to watch and so forth and even for the community.” said President José Padilla.
The Street Fair will have some differences this year, as a result of new alcohol policies and lessened COVID-19 regulations.
“Previous to this year, there was really no student centered pregame experience being offered. Now there is, and so as part of that groups can sign up to rent a tent or they can bring their own and then Parkhurst will also be there with a cash bar on and that's part of the overall change in policy… So that's exciting to have a kind of coordinated effort, like a student pregame experience, which I think is the perfect way to kind of describe what that experience is,” said Director of Student Involvement & New Student Programs Ryan Bye.
Padilla looks to continue the momentum set up by programming at the beginning of the semester throughout the school year.
“For a Valpo football game, we had a lot of students and a lot of people coming out to watch that game and I want to kind of build that enthusiasm. You know, not just for football, basketball, volleyball, but also for our music programs,” Padilla said.
Bye echoes this sentiment, citing campus events as one of the most memorable aspects of college life.
“For me, that's really exciting to just look at, like, what are ways that we can support those big community gatherings and big community moments? Because I think those are what makes up a significant part of your college experience and your college memories. When you think back to your time here things like that are what's going to stand out, the times that you were able to spend with others,” Bye said.