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Bayou Classic Fan Fest returns to New Orleans

Grambling beat Southern University 29-26 and the all-time series is now tied at 24.

NEW ORLEANS — After nearly two years, Grambling State and Southern University fans return to New Orleans for the 48th annual Bayou Classic.

The Tigers vs Jaguar rivalry football game draws in more than two hundred thousand people to the city with more than 50 thousand attending the game.

"If you not here where you at?" said excited SU student, Kennan Villery.

Ahead of kick-off, fans enjoyed music and dancing.

"It feels like home, actually seeing everybody festive and just here and ready to be back," said Karanay Alexander, SU student.

"It really feels good to be back to have everybody back, families back, the camaraderie between the schools. It really feels great to be back home," said Rochelle Bickham, Grambling '95.

Due to the COVID pandemic, Bayou Classic 2020 was in Shreveport.

"We never miss it. We're here every year. Love it," Michelle Braud-Guess said, an SU alum.

"I didn't want to go to Shreveport. New Orleans is the only place to be," she said.

With COVID numbers beginning to stabilize and vaccination rates up the 48th annual Bayou Classic made it home, to the big easy.

"Missing a year it kind of sucked, well missing two years it kind of sucked but being back in New Orleans, Baby we back. Bayou Classic all the way. Southern Gang, " Villery said.

While that one-of-a-kind Bayou Classic energy returned to the dome so did the rivalry.

Shai Menina Is one of the lucky few to be both a Tiger and a Jaguar.

"So, I'm always a winner when I step in the Dome and when I step out," the Grambling and Southern University graduated said.

Of course, Bayou Classic enthusiasts enjoyed the fest with the COVID regulations were in place.

"They've been doing testing as well and everyone has to show their vaccination cards. So, we definitely feel safe and we also have our masks for when we go in," Menina said.

Though masks weren't required they were encouraged, and if attendees didn't already get the shot there was a chance to do so before entering the Dome.

"It was very convenient because if they wouldn't have been here I wouldn't have went out of my way to get it. I was going to get it done. But, I wouldn't have done it so soon," said Raymond Dennis, after getting the shot at Classic.

$100 incentives were also given away with vaccinations.

All perks of bringing this classic tradition back home during the "new norm."

"I'm actually living in Georgia now. So, I love to come home. We enjoyed the parade this morning and we also had the opportunity to go to the Battle of the Bands and the Greek show last night. We're also Greek so Skee wee my sorors. It's really good to have the Bayou Classic back in New Orleans though. It's good to be back home," Menina and Bickham said.

Grambling beat Southern University 29-26 and the all-time series is now tied at 24.