Hokie fans, it is that magical time of the year, where the Orange and Maroon is not only in the trees, but on the football field as well. The Virginia Tech Hokies opened this year’s football campaign with a victory against Liberty in Lane Stadium. Now, it’s time for the second game of the year that will be new coach Justin Fuente’s first true test. The Battle at Bristol is being billed as the biggest college football game ever, and very well could live up to that lofty title. The question is what will those fans, who have arrived early, do in the days leading up to the game?
For those that don’t know I have the great privilege of living in Bristol. Our little city is no stranger to big events with a NASCAR race visiting twice a year, and one of the biggest music festivals in the area setting up shop in the fall. For each of these events, there are multitudes of events and activities for patrons to participate in, The Battle at Bristol is no different.
For those fans coming in to Bristol early to camp and tailgate for the game there are many options for entertainment starting with Thursday, Friday, and the daytime leading up to the game, not that tailgating isn’t enough fun. The city of Bristol is pulling out all the stops for this massive college football event. Thursday starts the fun with a duel tailgate on State Street.
State Street is the main street downtown in Bristol. The state line runs down the middle of the road separating Virginia and Tennessee. Naturally, this would be the logical place to have the party that starts the weekend out. First, of all there are multiple restaurants and shops in the downtown area. For this particular day the different sides of the street are going to be decked out in Hokie Orange and Maroon on the Virginia side and Tennessee colors on the Tennessee side.
Each school will have a specific restaurant which will act as home base for the fans. Quaker Steak and Lube will act as the home base for all Hokie fans. Along with tons of fans being able to interact together at Bristol’s local restaurants; There will be live music at the end of State Street, headlined by local favorite Folk Soul Revival, followed by a giant joint pep rally under the Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee sign.
The fun continues the next day as State Street continues to be closed to traffic and fans are encouraged to travel up and down the streets visiting the many restaurants and shops on both sides of the street. I highly recommend stopping at Blackbird Bakery in the downtown area. Blackbird has a multitude of desserts for late night snacks as well as some of the best donuts in the area. I recommend the breakfast blueberry pancake donut, it is topped with bacon cannot go wrong with that.
There will be a corn hole tournament for fans of both teams where one teams fans will be crowned champions. Along with the corn hole tournament, there will be an autograph session with legends of the past from both teams. Rumors are swirling about who these legends might be. Frank Beamer is more than likely going to be one of the Hokie legends at the signings.
Bristol is home to two separate high schools, one on the Virginia side and one on the Tennessee side. This schools meet every year in what is known as the V-T game. This year marks the 100th meeting of the two teams. The game is always competitive, and shows true high school football spirit. The game is being held at Tennessee High this year, in their famous “Stone Castle” stadium on Thursday night.
All of this activity is of course is just the appetizer to the main event of Friday, which is Kenny Chesney live in concert at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chesney, who went to school at local college ETSU, will be joined by Greenville natives the Band Perry, and Virginia themed band Old Dominion (can you see a pattern here).
Then comes the main event folks, the Saturday many have been waiting for since the game was first announced. Games like this do not come along very often. I can honestly say a game like this is what the fans in the Bristol area have been clamoring for. That being said, the day of the game promises to have a festival like atmosphere, with both fan bases being well represented.
The day will have plenty of events for Hokie fans leading up to kickoff at 8pm. First the rumored elephant in the room was if ESPN’s Game Day would be making an appearance. That rumor was put to bed as the official announcement came last week. Game Day and the all that travels with it, will be setting up shop at the Last Great Coliseum.
The official Virginia Tech tailgate will be held on the dragstrip in the camping section near the drag strip tower. This will be a great place to find a ton of orange and maroon. Also Game Day will logically be setting up near the drag strip, which is extremely close to this tailgate. The Virginia Tech tailgate is not the only attraction prior to the game. There will be two different fan zones on the outer rims of the tracks. Each will offer a multitude of different opportunities, and experiences for Hokie fans.
One of these opportunities will be a free live concert by Sam Hunt, and John Pardi along with a few other acts that will be entertaining fans. All these acts are free to ticket holders. The concert venue will also be very close to the Hokie walk which will take place in Earhart campground, near the south entrance to the track. After the concerts comes the game, which is the real reason we all made the trek to Bristol.
Some other important facts about the game is the fact that once you are inside the track, there will be no reentry if you leave the stadium. Also, traffic will be held for about an hour after the final whistle sounds to allow for people to make it to their camps and vehicles safely.
The most important thing is for Hokie fans to have a great time in Bristol, and hopefully come up with a huge win for the program. I hope everyone will find plenty to do in my hometown, and hopefully we will all be celebrating a VT win. Until next time fans GO HOKIES.