NEW ORLEANS — Fans have been flocking to the city all day, checking into hotels, eating at restaurants and exploring the city. In downtown anywhere you look, you’re going to see folks decked out in their team colors.
The day before kickoff, it’s all about the swag and the SWAC as Jaguar and Tiger fans get ready for a catfight on the gridiron.
“We are so excited,” said Southern fan Allegria Dogan. “We’ve been down here since yesterday.”
Before the teams take the field, fans take the city.
“It brings in a lot of revenue for the city of New Orleans,” said Southern fan Sheneka Sylvan.
That revenue is a welcomed sight for a tourist economy trying to fight off pandemic woes, which forced the game out of New Orleans last year. Now, fans are glad to be back on the prowl in the big easy.
“I woke up yesterday, partied. Woke up today, partied. Ready to party some more,” said Dogan.
“There’s no place like having the Bayou Classic in New Orleans, “said Southern fan Sheila Perkins.
This year’s Bayou Classic means new memories for Grambling freshman Raylin Fergerson.
“This is my first time going to the Bayou Classic as a student,” said Fergerson.
Fergerson’s mom went to Grambling as well, and the weekend continues a family tradition.
“Half my family is Southern. Half is Grambling, so we enjoy coming down for the rivalry,” said Grambling fan Dr. Cheryl Fergerson.
It’s a rivalry that has ended with a Jaguar victory the last three times, but Tiger fans have their claws out.
We’re going to win this year, it’s been a long time but we are,” said Grambling freshman Amare Brown.
Southern fans see things a bit differently.
“We’ve got to whip Grambling. That’s the only thing we’re thinking about, whipping Grambling,” said Dogan. “That’s it.”
Through all the trash talk, the Bayou Classic is also time to shine a light on black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs,
“The Bayou Classic is my first time being out here so it’s a new experience for me too,” said Richard Burnett, Jr.
Burnett created his wooden watch company in 2019, part of this year’s black business showcase.
“It gives us a platform to speak and show ourselves and our brand and what we offer,” said Burnett.
It all happens during a weekend when rivalry creates community.
“It’s good to see black excellence everywhere, a lot of black people coming together to have fun,” said Brown.
There will be a parade Saturday morning at 9:30, leading up to the fan festival at 11:30 a.m., before kickoff at 4 p.m.