Homecoming! It’s arguably one of the best events of the year for MTSU students, faculty, and alumni – even if you aren’t into football. Whether your favorite event is the homecoming parade, tailgating at Walnut Grove, or cheering on Blue Raider Football, Homecoming has something for everyone to enjoy.
But did you know that some of our favorite homecoming events date back decades? In fact, MTSU’s homecoming weekend is full of time-honored traditions. So here’s a list of 5 MTSU homecoming events that every Blue Raider (past and present) can look forward to this year… and for many years to come.
The Annual Chili Cook-Off
The annual Chili Cook-Off is a much-loved event across campus – who doesn’t want unlimited hot bowls of chili served by your favorite student organizations for only $5? This delicious event started way back in 1985, and originally started as a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In its 33rd year, the Chili Cook-Off is still alive and well. Coming right as the weather begins to turn cold, the event is often accompanied by cornhole tournaments and other fun yard games. The combination cooler weather, warm chili, and games are probably the best reminder that… “it’s fall, y’all.” Whether you like beans or no beans, spicy or mild, we have a feeling the chili cook-off will be around for a while.
Roller Skating in The Rec
While not quite thoroughly tested against time as some of the other events on the list, the idea for a roller skating party in the Campus Recreation Center came to fruition in 2017 and is back for 2018. Last year, the first event of the week was called “Skate Back to the 90’s,” and proved to be an instant success that could be repeated every year. The event was so popular that they didn’t have enough skates for everyone who showed up. Returning this year as “Rollercade,” the event is back with more skates and will coincide with a DJ Dance Party and Haunted House, co-sponsored by SPARE. I don’t know about you, but my idea of mid-semester stress relief aligns perfectly with dance parties and lacing up the ole’ roller skates. Nostalgia at its finest, ladies and gents.
The Homecoming Parade
The first Homecoming parade ever recorded in an edition of Sidelines was in 1938 – and it consisted of seven floats, five of which were left behind because there was not a truck to pull them through the snow. Each class – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors – competed in the float contest together. To say the least, the homecoming parade and float contest has gotten much more elaborate since then! Now with over 200 participants each year, student organizations compete to see who can create the most impressive Homecoming float according to the theme for the year. The homecoming parade is exciting for alumni & current students alike as people gather down Main Street to watch in awe as the floats drive by. The parade is also a great way to meet prominent members of the Murfreesboro community – including President McPhee and the First Lady (maybe you’ll even score one of President McPhee’s coveted pins!).
Tailgating at Walnut Grove
Ahh, tailgating. Students arrive a few hours before the game starts, decked out in their True Blue best, and gather under large tents at Walnut Grove while alumni, parents, and faculty grill out on RV Row. Vendors and student organizations talk about their projects and groups, and free food isn’t exactly difficult to find. Make sure to invite everyone you know to ensure maximum enjoyment, but don’t be afraid to meet new people. We’re all True Blue, so this is one of your best opportunities to meet your fellow students and get to know them in a low-stress environment (Pro-tip: do not bring up the assignment you both have due the following Monday. Not a good icebreaker!). No matter you decide to do at the tailgate and whoever you decide to show up with, don’t forget the most important part – GO TO THE ACTUAL GAME!
Voting for King and Queen
Around this time of year, the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts of MTSU students are flooded with virtual flyers declaring the best choices for Homecoming King and Queen. Buttons and snacks are handed out from meticulously decorated tables in the STU or KUC, and votes are cast to represent the student body at the homecoming festivities. The tradition started long ago, however, before social media was used to gather votes for your favorite candidate. The Homecoming King and Queen are viewed as important ambassadors of our university and are extremely involved on campus, so be sure to vote for who you believe deserves the honor! The Homecoming Court is announced the week before Homecoming, with the King and Queen being crowned during halftime of the Homecoming Game.
Mixer on Main
If you aren’t in the actual parade, be sure to head to the President’s Lawn for the Mixer on Main! Every year, the lawn and the MTSU Alumni Association play host to an exciting parade watching party. Blue Raiders of past and present gather as Chip Walters, the “Voice of the Blue Raiders,” announces each parade entry as they head down Main Street.
“I personally love Mixer on Main,” says Rhonda King, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations. “The President’s Lawn fills with the Blue Raider community ready to celebrate. The music cranks up. Children are bouncing in the inflatables. Families are smiling for their annual photos. It is so fun to see Main Street lined with blue – it’s the perfect way to start homecoming day.”
Contributing Writer: Kobe Hermann