By CARL SMITH
Mississippi State University student government representatives are developing tentative plans to host this year’s Bulldog Bash in the Cotton District on Nov. 2, a day before MSU’s home football game against new Southeastern Conference foe Texas A&M.
MSU Student Association President Shelby Balius confirmed her organization submitted a permit application to host the event from 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 to 1 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, but approval from the Starkville Board of Aldermen is still needed to finalize the plans.
“We have explored the option of the Texas A&M weekend in part for the opportunity to welcome a new member of the conference to come into town early and have the full experience of an SEC (football) weekend. We have applied for a special events permit for (Nov. 2) as our first choice so that we can move forward with offers on talent; however, no official date has been set. We are still exploring all options,” she said. “The date of Bulldog Bash is ultimately determined by the availability of the artist that we feel will bring the most excitement to current (MSU) students, recent alumni and the Starkville community.”
Starkville City Planner Ben Griffith confirmed his office received the application and met with SA representatives Thursday to discuss the potential event’s date and needed services. The application is expected to go before the Starkville Board of Aldermen at its July 17 meeting.
The application asks the city to close a portion of University Drive and other Cotton District side streets, while stating event setup would begin 2 a.m. Nov. 2 and teardown would conclude 6 a.m. the next day.
“The board can deny the request or say ‘yes’ and have the city absorb (in-kind services) as part of the operation,” Griffith said. “(The board) also has the option to approve it while saying the cost of city services has to be offset.”
Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership vice president for tourism, said her organization can begin scheduling New South Weekend tourism events to coincide with MSU’s football season once a Bulldog Bash date is officially set.
“We appreciate the SA allowing us to include their event in this series, which basically promotes home football game weekends as tourist attractions,” she said. “Bulldog Bash is one of the largest events held in Starkville and always brings a huge amount of people into our city from all over the area.
If held Nov. 2, Gregory said Bulldog Bash could be used to welcome Texas A&M fans to Starkville in an attempt to bring tourists back from College Station. Besides the Cotton District Arts Festival, Bulldog Bash is one of the area’s major tourist-attracting events and heavily impacts retailers, restaurants and tax collections.
“In the last few years, (Bulldog Bash) has been very successful at attracting individuals from opposing teams because it’s another way we can showcase Starkville and the Cotton District in an attempt to get them to come back,” Gregory said. “Football weekends are always big, but the bash is typically our restaurants and retailers’ greatest experience during fall. We depend on the tax revenues generated from the influx of people here, and it is exciting to see the event continue to grow.”