Kickoff fall sports at tailgate party Saturday

By DeeAnna Haney | Aug 14, 2014

An event that is the first of its kind in Haywood County will bring one of the region's biggest rivalries together for a day of tailgating, food, fundraising and fun.

The goal of the Fall Sports Kickoff Party, which will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at Sid's On Main in Canton, is to get the community excited about the beginning of a new year in athletics.

Though football is on the minds of everyone who packs the stadiums for Pisgah and Tuscola high school games, the event includes all the fall sports and their coaches and players.

Those who attend will be able to park in the lot across from Sid's On Main as well as the First Baptist Church, Central Methodist Chruch and Champion Credit Union lots for overflow. In cooperation with the town of Canton, parking is also available in any public parking area downtown.

Traditional tailgate food, such as hot wings, hot dogs, hamburgers and sides, can be purchased at Sid's on Main for $10 for adults and $5 for children, with 10 percent of the proceeds given to Pisgah and Tuscola booster clubs.

Beginning at noon, school fight songs will be heard playing on the loudspeaker at the restaurant and coaches and sponsors will be making speeches to the crowds. Western Carolina University Head Football Coach Mark Spier will be speaking to the the crowd and WPTL radio station will be interviewing the coaches on a live broadcast.

Sheriff Christopher's Big Gun Run will involve members of cross country track teams from both high schools and Canton and Waynesville middle schools. The timed run, organized with the help of Western Carolina University's cross country team, will begin at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Canton and will end at Champion Credit Union on Main Street, with Sheriff Greg Christopher greeting them at the end. Cheerleaders from both high schools will be on either side of the sidewalk to cheer on the runners.

Booster clubs for both schools will be selling merchandise and taking donations at booths set up at the event. Pisgah cheerleaders will be auctioning off spirit baskets and Tuscola cheerleaders will have a face painting booth.

There will also be a half-and-half drawing with proceeds to be split between the schools, cornole tournaments starting at noon and many more activities throughout the day.

This is a first-ever collaboration of this kind between the local schools and Western Carolina University to create an exciting event that Pat Smathers, who helped come up with the event idea, hopes will continue for years to come. Though the high school rivalry is one that is known for its raucous fans, it's always in good fun.

"Usually these teams only get together on opposite sides, but this time they are coming together to support each other," Smathers said. "It will be a casual, fun, relaxed and entertaining event for school fans and supporters to come and go at their pleasure while supporting each school's sports program."

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