The event will begin at 4 p.m. at the northwest corner of the Shotwell Stadium parking lot. There will be food, local vendors and entertainment for the Abilene community to enjoy. The athletic department is calling the event Wildcat Country.
“The ultimate goal for the tailgate is to unite the community and the university and get Abilene involved with ACU games,” said Beau Carter, SA student body president. “We won’t feel like a Div. 1 university until our students are behind it.”
Plans for the tailgate began in the summer when Randy Carter, general manager for Peak Sports Management, approached Beau about the idea to enhance the ACU game-day experience. Beau proposed the idea to the student body, and Randy reached out to the Abilene community to connect with the city and ACU supporters.
Over 30 local vendors, such Jimmy Johns, Blue Sky Texas and Lytle Land and Cattle will set up booths and give away free food. Other local businesses will have door prizes and give-a-ways as well. Suddenlink will have a booth with TVs playing other college football games from around the country. Lytle Land and Cattle will be providing live music. Action Zone is hosting an obstacle course for social clubs to compete against one another, and Air Castles by Andrea will be providing inflatables for families to enjoy.
“This is a free family fun tailgate zone, for which we look to provide ACU’s most dedicated fans with the best collegiate game day experience for all sports, and that tradition starts this year,” Randy said.
The “Voice of the Wildcats,” Grant Boone, will have a booth set up to interview Head Coach Ken Collums, as well as an autograph session.
SA and other student groups will be responsible for the other half of the tailgate. SA is joining with Wildcat Reign to have two large tents with hamburgers and hot dogs. SA is also sectioning off spaces for social clubs to grill out food. SA will give each social club that attends $75 to buy food and supplies for their spaces.
“We want everyone, despite their different organizations or clubs, to come together,” said Beau, senior political science major from Farmers Branch. “Everyone has their different club colors, but we really want everyone to be in purple on game day.”
This tailgate is part of a larger plan by SA and the athletic department to increase school spirit and community support at athletic events. With a new stadium coming to ACU’s campus in fall of 2017, building a larger fan base is a top priority for both groups.
“We have a saying in SA, and it’s that students don’t know what they want until they have it,” said Beau. “We are just trying to create opportunities to improve the ACU experience.”