Brenda Carter and her family have turned Southern University’s Football Fan Fest into an annual tailgating extravaganza.
Carter, 51, a Southern alumna, celebrated Fan Fest by tailgating in an RV decked out with her school’s paraphernalia ranging from a Southern welcome mat to jaguar-print pillows. The RV arrived on campus Friday afternoon, Carter said.
Carter said she and her family cooked up a feast for the day, including red beans and sausage, chicken and ribs.
Carter said she has been to every Fan Fest she has been able to attend. She said she enjoys the day because of the camaraderie it builds among alumni and current students.
“It’s a great day to be a Jaguar,” Carter said.
Carter and hundreds of other Jaguars fans rolled onto campus Saturday for the activities.
Pockets of fans, including about 30 RVs, set up shop next to A.W. Mumford Stadium and tailgated for hours on end.
Anthony Doty and his family didn’t have an RV, but they set up a tent by the stadium just like it was game day.
Doty, 45, said his crew cooked up burgers and brought chips for the day.
“We kind of kept it simple,” he said. “That’s what the kids like.”
Doty said he and his family began regularly attending Fan Fest about three years ago so their children could enjoy the fun-filled day, too.
Doty joked that her children, “had to remind me. They said, ‘Hey, by the way, Saturday, it’s football fan day.’ ”
Other Jaguars fans headed straight to Seymour Gym for the pep rally associated with Fan Fest.
The rally was moved from its usual A.W. Mumford Stadium location to an indoor setting because of the threat of inclement weather. Rain washed out most of the team’s planned scrimmage after Fan Fest ended.
Inside the gym, fans lined up with posters in hand to obtain autographs from their favorite football players, as well as members of Southern’s women’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams. Some fans took the time to take pictures with the athletes.
For Jerry Joseph Sr., the autograph session held a special meaning — even though he has ties to Southern’s biggest rival.
Joseph’s son, Jerry Joseph II, is a senior running back for the Jaguars. Joseph Sr. played for Grambling State under legendary coach Eddie Robinson.
However, Joseph Sr. said he has nothing but love for his son, so he got Joseph II’s autograph during Fan Fest.
“It’s exciting. He’s playing for a great university,” Joseph Sr. said.
After the autograph session, fans were treated to performances by the cheerleading squad and speeches from head coach Stump Mitchell, Chancellor James Llorens and athletic director William Broussard.
Llorens said in an interview before his speech that he enjoys Fan Fest because it can also serve as an unofficial kickoff event for the academic year.
“It’s good to have the fans, the community come out and get excited for football season,” Llorens said.
Llorens said he also enjoyed the day because the Jaguars seem to have high hopes even after the squad has gone a combined 6-16 in the past two seasons.
“Coach (Mitchell) is optimistic, so that’s a good thing,” Llorens said with a laugh.
Carter is a bit more bold in her predictions. She thinks Southern can win the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship and will take down Grambling in the Bayou Classic.
“We’re looking forward to a great season,” she said.