Tarleton fans looking forward to spring Homecoming game, activities

From Tarleton State University
The annual homecoming parade through the campus includes floats, marching bands, mounted horseback riders and vintage vehicles.
The L.V. Risinger Memorial Bonfire is a tradition dating to the 1920s. The burning of the bonfire takes place on Friday evening of Homecoming Week.
Seeing the Tarleton Smokestack lit in purple has symbolized the beginning of Homecoming Week since 2014, when the lighting ceremony became an official Homecoming event.
The 1920s brought a favorite student tradition — the beating of the drum. At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, attempts to burn the opponent's bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration were common. A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until the football game kickoff to discourage NTAC students from invading campus.

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University students, faculty, staff and supporters all have a lot to anticipate in the coming days and weeks.

Added to the excitement of annual late fall and winter festivities is the spring Homecoming week, featuring all of the traditional events and centered around football, the Texans’ first Homecoming game at the Division I level.

Tarleton faces off against former Lone Star Conference foe Midwestern State at 6 p.m. March 20, 2021, capping a week of purple-tinged happenings.

Each day of Homecoming week, March 15-20, Tarleton campuses will buzz with activities starting with the Faculty and Staff Alumni Luncheon and S’mores Kick-off on Monday followed by Tuesday’s purple pancakes in Stephenville.

The Yell Contest, Yell Bingo, Snake Dance and Beating of the Drum are all on Wednesday’s schedule, followed by a concert celebrating Tarleton’s Purple Poo on Thursday.

According to the TSU website, the 1920s brought a favorite student tradition — the beating of the drum. At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, attempts to burn the opponent's bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration were common. A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until the football game kickoff to discourage NTAC students from invading campus. Today, organization and residence hall students continue this around-the-clock tradition by beating the drum from Tuesday evening until Saturday kickoff.

In early years, to begin bonfire festivities, students assembled on the Trogden House lawn, locked arms and snaked their way to the bonfire site. This Snake Dance was led by cheerleaders carrying torches to light the way. Today, with the bonfire at the College Farm, students snake dance from the yell contest at Wisdom Gym in the Kinesiology Building to the start of drum beating at the Thompson Student Center.

During the 1980s, the Student Government Association added the Yell Contest to Homecoming Week, and quickly established a new tradition. Student organizations perform step and dance moves to original chants and lyrics, and a panel of judges selects the top three teams. The winning team has the honor of beating the drum immediately after the traditional leaders, the Plowboys.

Wednesday and Thursday feature events at Tarleton outreach campuses, too. In Waco the Homecoming Hoe-Down and Launching of the Ducks are scheduled for Wednesday, while Midlothian hosts Launching of the Ducks on Thursday. Fort Worth supporters will have their own purple pancakes Thursday.

The bonfire tops Friday’s activities, which also include the J. Dixon White Golf Tournament, the Welcome Home Bash and the Alumni Homecoming Kick-Off Social.

According to TSU, the L.V. Risinger Memorial Bonfire is a tradition dating to the 1920s. The Plowboys organization builds and guards the bonfire. The Homecoming Court is recognized during the festivities. The bonfire has been dedicated to L.V. Risinger, acclaimed defender of the bonfire during the North Texas Agricultural College air raid of 1939.

To gear up for Saturday’s game, Tarleton alumni will be treated to the annual Homecoming Parade as well as the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ breakfast, the Memorial Homecoming 5K, the Welcome Home Breakfast and Watch Party and, of course, tailgating at Texan Alley.

For more information visit https://www.tarleton.edu/spiritweek/events.html.