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By STEVEN NALLEY
For Mississippi State University, homecoming begins a full week before the actual game â€” and it keeps going the day after the game.
Organizations across campus and the city of Starkville have events planned for MSUâ€™s homecoming week, beginning with a chapel service at 8 p.m. today in MSUâ€™s Chapel of Memories and ending with Bulldog Brunch and Browse in downtown Starkville Sunday, Oct. 21 from noon to 3 p.m.
Haley Berryhill, chief of staff for MSUâ€™s Student Association, said the chapel service is a long-standing annual homecoming tradition. Because the Chapel of Memories is built from the bricks left behind when MSUâ€™s Old Main dorm burned down, she said the chapel holds a place of honor in MSUâ€™s history.
â€ś(The chapel service) is open to the public for everyone who wants to come,â€ť Berryhill said. â€śWe invite different choirs and different groups on campus to be part of the event.â€ť
Jennifer Gregory, vice president for tourism development with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, said the Bulldog Brunch and Browse is the latest of several held on Sundays after MSU home games.
â€śBasically, we have about 16 downtown stores that open their doors ...
from noon to 3 p.m. for residents and visiting fans,â€ť Gregory said. â€śSo we encourage people to eat lunch or brunch at their favorite Starkville restaurant and then come downtown for special Sunday shopping.â€ť
The celebration between these two Sundays begins with Rep Our State Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the campus South Zone, sponsored by MSUâ€™s Holmes Cultural Diversity Center. Berryhill said a second religious program, After Dark at the Hump, will start at 8 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum, with Joe White speaking and Matt Wertz leading worship. She said the Crucible Challenge will also sponsor a Movie Night in the Junction at 8 p.m. Wednesday, featuring â€śThe Dark Knight Rises.â€ť
Thursday features an old favorite and a new addition to homecoming festivities, Berryhill said. First, she said, Colvard Student Union will host a photo booth from noon to 4 p.m.
â€śWeâ€™ve done this the past few years,â€ť Berryhill said. â€śItâ€™s free of charge. (Guests) can put on funny costumes that we provide. We have sunglasses, funny hats, different things you can take pictures with instead of just getting in the photo booth and taking pictures.â€ť
Second, the Unionâ€™s plaza will host MSUâ€™s first Plazapalooza Battle of the Bands. Berryhill said Late Night Events, an SA subsidiary, is sponsoring the event and has already selected four top competitors to perform on the plaza. According to the eventâ€™s Facebook page, the four bands are The Beats, The Jarnigan Gypsies, Surviving Allison and The Unoriginals, and a fifth band from Jackson, The Weeks, will judge the competition and perform at the end.
Fridayâ€™s Homecoming Parade will begin at 4 p.m., and Berryhill said former MSU basketball player Bailey Howell is slated to serve as grand marshall.
â€śAfter the parade, we will have a pep rally in the Junction to introduce our homecoming court,â€ť Berryhill said. â€śOur guest speaking for that is Scott Stricklin, as well as former Miss MSU Libbo Haskins and (former Mr. MSU) Price Davis.â€ť
Downtown Starkville will host the Junior Auxiliary Chili Cook-Off from 5-8 p.m., where chili tastings cost $5 each and local music and a childrenâ€™s village with face painting and inflatable jumpers will also be available. The cook-off is the first of its kind in Starkville, and event organizer Mamie Kosko said she hopes for it to become an annual tradition.
â€śWeâ€™re hoping for a fun family event that brings the city and the campus as well as the out of town visitors together,â€ť Kosko said. â€śWeâ€™re definitely excited about it.â€ť
Berryhill said the MSU campus will feature two events at 7 p.m.: a step show at the Newell-Grissom Building and an MSU volleyball game at Humphrey Coliseum. She said the Lady Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks wonâ€™t be the only players competing at the coliseum Friday night.
â€śThe Alumni Delegates and the Roadrunners â€“ two of the most prestigious student organizations at MSU â€“ (will) be playing volleyball against each other at halftime during that game,â€ť Berryhill said.
Kickoff for the MSU vs. Middle Tennessee State University Homecoming game is Saturday at 6 p.m., preceded by an Alumni Tailgate in front of the Junctionâ€™s M-Club from 3-5:15 p.m. Berryhill said the tailgate is not solely for alumni; the public is invited to enjoy the barbecue.
â€śI think itâ€™s going to be a great week,â€ť Berryhill said.