Razorback football fans will be able to gather on Maple Street four hours prior to every home football game this season to experience the new HogTown Street Festival this fall.

Arkansans from West Fork to West Memphis commute to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium every season to watch their beloved Hogs. For Hog fans, Saturdays in the fall are some of the most eventful of the year, with friends, family and fans gathering hours before the game to tailgate outside of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

There are many locations to tailgate and enjoy pre-game festivities around Fayetteville. Some pitch their tents outside of Alumni House, and some stay in their apartments. The HogTown festival strives to bring these groups of people together for all kinds of festivities right outside of the stadium on Maple Street. For Arkansas’ first game of the year Aug. 31 against Portland State, HogTown made its debut.

“There were a ton of people out there that weren’t just college students. All the tailgaters were out there, and there were a lot of kids out there on the inflatables and at the face-painting stations,” freshman Tanner Brady said. “It was my first football game, so it definitely helped me get pumped up to see everyone out there.” 

Fans and players alike made appearances at the event. The newly introduced “Hog Walk” featured the football team entering the stadium by walking through the crowd of people enjoying the festivities, followed by a brief pep performance by the marching band on the overarching stage. 

“The players jogged down through the festival for the first time with coach Morris at the front,” freshman Colen Morrow said. “That was pretty cool.”

Even the Hogs’ mascot, Tusk V, got in on the action by being showcased at the center of the festival at the start of the event.

In addition to the introduction of HogTown, Razorback boxes, first appearing at Baum-Walker Stadium for baseball games last spring, are now available for football games, too. The private boxes offer a unique tailgating experience that include a large entertainment space with a television, a leather sofa, a grill and a spacious observing deck that can overlook the entire gameday environment on Maple Street. They can be reserved through the Razorback Ticket Center.

The fan festival includes a stage with live music, a videoboard showcasing college football games from around the country, food trucks, a beer garden and plenty of activities for kids, like balloon artists and autograph stations for fans to get their favorite Razorback student athlete’s signature. The festival ends every week with fireworks 30 minutes prior to game time to pump up the Razorback faithful and signal the start of the game. 

Sophomore Andrew Parker was one of thousands that enjoyed the street festival on opening weekend. 

“It brings the whole community together,” Parker said. “I really like it.”

Despite numerous fun activities at the festival, freshman Abriana Ciabattari thinks there is room for improvement when catering toward students and parents, she said.

“I think there could’ve been a few more things for adults,” Ciabattari said. “There were mostly activities for kids.”

The live stage played host to performances by the Arkansas pom squad and marching band, and there was music played all the way down the street through speakers, but Ciabattari said she would like to see more live performances going forward.

“It would be cool to see local bands performing there,” she said.

Maple Street, between the intersections of Stadium Drive and Razorback Road, will be closed and blocked off at 7 p.m. on Friday nights before game days to prepare for the festival. The section is reopened at halftime. After being closed for construction for most of the summer, that portion of the road has been widened, and a new light system has been added on the intersection of Razorback Road and Maple Street. The closing of the section did not have a significant impact on students living on-campus, Ciabattari said.

“It didn’t have any effect on me, and I live in the Adohi dorms on Stadium Drive, so I don’t think it really affected anything,” she said.

The Razorbacks will travel to Oxford this week to test their will against Ole Miss in their first SEC matchup of the season. They will return to Fayetteville the following week to host the Colorado State Rams on Sep. 14, where HogTown will be up and running once again. 

Parker Tillson contributed to this report.

Drew Watzke is the sports editor of the Arkansas Traveler. Previously, he worked as a sports writer and columnist from 2018-2019.

Elias Weiss is the associate editor of the sports and opinion sections of the Arkansas Traveler, where he worked as a reporter and columnist from 2018-2019. Elias graduated with an AA degree in journalism from Central Piedmont Community College in 2018.

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