One hundred years ago, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, held its first Homecoming celebration. Three hundred alumni attended.
This year, thousands of Volunteers are expected to participate in Homecoming activities which begin Sunday, Oct. 30, and culminate the following weekend with the UT vs. Tennessee Tech football game and several events, including a free Saturday-night concert on Market Square.
This year’s theme is “Journey through 100 Years of Volunteers.” Alumni returning to campus will participate in longstanding traditions and also enjoy a few new events.
A full schedule of activities can be found on the Homecoming website. Events are open to all; competition events require registration. Members of the Knoxville and surrounding communities are encouraged to participate in Homecoming festivities.
- The annual Homecoming parade will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. The parade will start at Fiji Island beside Fraternity Park. The parade route map is available on the Homecoming website. The grand marshal will be John D. Tickle, UT alumnus and benefactor. The parade showcases student organization floats and includes the seventh annual Little Vol Walk, featuring children ages 10 and younger riding on decorated wagons, strollers or tricycles.
- On Saturday, Nov. 5, Homecoming’s signature event, Party in the Park, will begin in Circle Park three hours before the Vols take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Game tickets are available on the All Vols website. Party in the Park features live entertainment, performances by the pep band and cheerleaders, door prizes, face painting, balloon art and a Kids’ Corner with games. There is no admission fee; however, the cost to eat is $12 per person or $8 per child (10 and under) for a barbecue meal.
- The university’s first-ever Homecoming 5K Fun Run/Walk will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, on the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway. The event is free, but donations of canned goods, gift cards or cash will be accepted to benefit local agencies and schools. Goods will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, FISH Hospitality Pantries and Smokey’s Pantry. Monetary and gift card donations will be given to Pond Gap Elementary School, Vine Middle Magnet School and Fulton High School.
- Barnwarmin’ returns for the first time since the 1960s, with a new twist. Previously hosted by the Ag Club as the Barnwarmin’ fall dance, this tradition is coming back as a fall festival, complete with a pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin pie baking contest, pet costume contest and car show. The event is free to attend; registration is required to participate in the competitions. The event runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, on Fiji Island.
- The Vol Navy Boat Races take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, at the TRECS Pool. Teams will create their own version of the Vol Navy by building boats made completely of recyclable materials. Two members sitting inside the boat must be the first to successfully guide their boat across the pool to win the competition. Spectators are encouraged to attend.
- The Downtown Knoxville Central Business Improvement District and Visit Knoxville are partnering with the university to pair local downtown businesses with teams of UT students during Paint the Town Orange. The teams will paint the windows of their assigned business based on the Homecoming theme. The community can view the final displays after 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when competition judging begins. A self-guided walking tour map will be available on the Homecoming website.
The community can enjoy a free concert from UT alumnus Drew Holcomb and his band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors with special guest Cereus Bright. The Homecoming concert begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, on the Market Square Stage.