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Beaver fans gather ahead of Bemidji State homecoming game

Cars lined Birchmont Drive as hundreds of Bemidji State homecoming parade attendees flooded to Diamond Point Park for the pre-game tailgate party on Saturday.

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John Zender, right, watches his bean bag fly onto the board while playing with Ella Lewandowski and others ahead of the Bemidji State homecoming football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Diamond Point Park. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Cars lined Birchmont Drive as hundreds of Bemidji State homecoming parade attendees flooded to Diamond Point Park for the pre-game tailgate party on Saturday.

Starting at noon and lasting until the Beavers faced off with No. 22 Augustana, spirits were high in anticipation of the first BSU homecoming football game since 2019.

Sporting Beavers jerseys, pinstripe overalls, visors, hats and even pom-poms, adults and children alike spent some quality time playing cornhole, taking pictures with Bucky the Beaver and munching on their favorite foods.

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Bucky the Beaver poses for a photo with tailgaters ahead of the Bemidji State homecoming football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Diamond Point Park. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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Nearly every tent had its own cornhole set-up with many people holding unofficial tournaments.

“That’s as good as in,” a man shouted after his bean bag toss narrowly missed the hole in the board.

A lot more children played Plinko, rope toss and picked a rubber duck out of a kiddie pool. If their duck had a dot on the bottom, they were eligible to win a “big prize” and, if not, they were still awarded candy.

Aside from sweets, many tents had grills complementing their BSU flags and souvenirs. Smoke wafted around Diamond Point from the many brats, hamburgers and veggies being cooked for everyone to enjoy.

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Hazel Kingery, 4, picked out a duck for a prize ahead of the Bemidji State homecoming football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Diamond Point Park. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Alcohol wasn’t in short supply, either. To be kept in the fenced-off tailgate area, Brigid’s Pub held tomato juice on ice for Bloody Mary’s while one man handed out personal bottles of Fireball at a separate tent.

“Don’t try to drink ‘em all at one time,” he mentioned while taking them out one by one from a bucket to give to passersby.

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A majority of the tailgaters stayed put at their tents, and who could blame those who had a living room set-up complete with cushioned chairs, couches, a footrest, nightstand and lamp?

Most people had simpler displays, at least one with a TV, while a few people tailgated from the back of their vans.

With the football game fast approaching, the BSU pep band scrambled to find a place to set up to perform while a squealing dog made its stance clear that it, too, wanted to watch Beaver football.

Players and cheerleaders alike were already on the field by Chet Anderson Stadium by 12:30 p.m. Soon after, the tailgaters swarmed the stadium to cheer on the Beavs.

Upcoming homecoming events following Beaver football include:

  • Saturday: Beaver Block Party and Street Dance from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. between Third and Fourth Streets on Beltrami Avenue, $10 per person cover fee (cash only), must be 21 years or older. Proceeds will fund scholarships for incoming BSU students.

  • Sunday: Carl O. Thompson Memorial Concert at 3 p.m. in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. The concert will feature BSU’s performing ensembles as well as instrumental and vocal Carl O. Thompson scholarship recipients.

  • Sunday: The Homecoming Hearth extinguishing ceremony will immediately follow the Carl O. Thompson Concert at the BSU Fireplace, Lakeside Lawn.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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