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Homecoming Traditions

texan rider infront of bonfire

L.V. Risinger Memorial Bonfire

A tradition dating to the 1920s, the burning of the bonfire takes place on Friday evening of Homecoming Week. The Plowboys organization builds and guards the bonfire. The Homecoming Court is recognized during the festivities. The bonfire has been dedicated to L.V. Risinger, acclaimed defender of the bonfire during the North Texas Agricultural College (NTAC) air raid of 1939.

students beating the drum at homecoming

Beat the Drum

The 1920s brought a favorite student tradition — the beating of the drum. At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, attempts to burn the opponent's bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration were common. A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until the football game kickoff to discourage NTAC students from invading campus. Today, organization and residence hall students continue this around-the-clock tradition by beating the drum from Tuesday evening until Saturday kickoff.

students snake dancing during homecoming

Snake Dance

In early years, to begin bonfire festivities, students assembled on the Trogden House lawn, locked arms and snaked their way to the bonfire site. The dance was led by cheerleaders carrying torches to light the way. Today, with the bonfire at the College Farm, students snake dance from the yell contest at Wisdom Gym in the Kinesiology Building to the start of drum beating at the Thompson Student Center.

students being crowned homecoming king and queen

Homecoming Court

Dating from the earliest event festivities, the Homecoming King and Queen elections are held each year. The King is announced at the L.V. Risinger Bonfire on Friday, and the Queen is announced during the football game on Saturday. Election criteria are announced as the week approaches. Voting takes place online!

band members performing in the homecoming parade

Homecoming Parade

Our Homecoming parade through the campus includes floats, marching bands, mounted horseback riders and vintage vehicles. More information can be found here as the event approaches. The parade is held during Homecoming weekend.

student and a purple poo with the silver bugle

Silver Bugle Hunt

From 1941 to 1958, as a mark of the fierce rivalry raging between Tarleton and NTAC, a silver bugle was presented to the winner of the annual football game. NTAC won the final game, and the hated “Grubs” then lost the silver bugle. To commemorate this event, a campus-wide scavenger hunt is held each year during Homecoming Week.

students performing in yell contest

Yell Contest

During the 1980s, the Student Government Association added the Yell Contest to Homecoming Week, and quickly established a new tradition. Student organizations perform step and dance moves to original chants and lyrics, and a panel of judges selects the top three teams. The winning team has the honor of beating the drum immediately after the traditional leaders, the Plowboys.

student helping put on midnight breakfast

Midnight Breakfast

On Thursday night of Homecoming Week, students stay up for the annual Midnight Breakfast celebration, featuring Purple Pancakes. The breakfast is sponsored, cooked and served by the Student Government Association’s Executive Cabinet and Freshman Representative Council as a tradition that started in 1983.

alumni posing at the all class reunion

TAA Tailgate and All-Class Reunion

The Tarleton Alumni Association welcomes alumni back to campus each year during homecoming for an All Class Reunion Reception, Registration and Family Friendly Hospitality at the Alumni House on McIlhaney St., and hosts the Official Tarleton Alumni Association Tailgate.

participant golfing at last years tournament

J. Dixon White Homecoming Golf Classic

In honor of a Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame member, the J. Dixon White Homecoming Golf Classic attracts alumni and university participants each year. White was among the 25 charter members of the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame when it was created in 1980, and the first golf classic was held in the early 1980s.

SWAT members serving lunch at the purple out picnic

Purple Out Picnic

First begun in 2003, the Purple Out Picnic encourages our students to gather together to show their pride. Purple Out features a free cookout, music and performances by spirit organizations. Students are challenged to wear their most spirited and purple attire. The Homecoming Court is introduced, and nominees participate in a Q & A session.

Tarleton homecoming 5k, 2015

Homecoming 5k

The first 5k (3.1 mile) race in 2008 attracted just over 100 participants. The number of runners has increased steadily each year as alumni and community members join in our annual Homecoming traditions. A major attraction for the event is the flat and fast course entirely on our beautiful, scenic campus.

Duck Launch

Launching of the Ducks

The Launching of the Ducks, similar to a wishing well, is where Tarleton students during Homecoming Week write their wishes and/or goals on their very own rubber duck. The ducks, launched into the reflection pools outside the Nursing Building, swim there until Saturday’s football game kickoff. It’s a relatively new tradition, launched in 2013.

Tarleton's smokestack lit up purple

Lighting of the Smokestack

Seeing the Tarleton Smokestack lit in purple has symbolized the beginning of Homecoming Week since 2014, when the lighting ceremony became an official Homecoming event. The lighting ceremony starts a week full of history and tradition. Once the Smokestack is shining in purple glory, a concert immediately follows in Heritage Park.