The Fan Fest hosted by the South Carolina Gamecock Club Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium following the well-attended spring football game proved to be so popular that the school has decided to take the show on the road.
During the hour-long Fan Fest, hundreds of fans were allowed onto the field to participate in games and activities while the band Tokyo Joe played on a small stage near the northeast corner of the stadium.
"It was the first time we has ever done an event like this," Gamecock Club Director Patrick McFarland said Monday night on the 'Inside the Roost' program. "So we're going to learn a lot the first time. I had a notebook and was taking notes on how we can improve some things for the future. I think we can improve the process, but for the first time I think everybody enjoyed it."
McFarland said he was encouraged by the number of families and children he saw on the field, inspiring him to call it a "great family event.'
USC athletic director Eric Hyman described Saturday's initial Fan Fest as a "grand slam home run."
"It was exciting, but I want the fans to know we will continue to build on it," Hyman said on 'Inside the Roost'. "We had a lot of recruits there too. Look at the crowd. There were 25,000 to 30,000 fans. People had a wonderful time."
In lieu of the standard Gamecock Club tour from previous springs in which football and basketball coaches make routine speeches about their respective teams, USC will take Fan Fest on the road to six different sites around the Palmetto State starting May 11 at Charlotte Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC.
The Fan Fest Caravan will then proceed to make stops on three consecutive nights (May 16-18) in Charleston, SC (Joe Riley Park, home of the Charleston River Dogs), Aiken, SC (USC-Aiken Convocation Center) and Greenville, SC (Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive).
The tour will conclude with stops in Sumter (USC-Sumter) and Darlington (garage area at Darlington International Speedway) on May 24 and 25, respectively.
Each Fan Fest location will feature a live band, coaches and athletic department staff, Cocky and the USC cheerleaders, while the various championship trophies earned by USC athletic teams over the past year or so (including the national championship baseball trophy) will put on display and available for photo opportunities.
A Corn Hole tournament, one of the most popular events from last Saturday, will be held at each site as well.
In addition, a highlight video will be shown on a big screen and head football coach Steve Spurrier will autograph and personalize SEC East championship commemorative game balls. The ball will be similar to the ones he signed in 2007 when USC beat Clemson, 31-28, in the Upstate for his first win over the Tigers.
"We want to celebrate everything we accomplished this past year," McFarland said. "We're going to some really exciting venues. We want the venue to be part of the attraction. So these meetings won't be in a meeting hall or just a random room. I think we're going to hit some pretty exciting places. It will all happen at all six locations."
2011 SPRING GAMECOCK CLUB FAN FEST TOUR DATE:
May 11 - Charlotte Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, SC;
May 16 - Joe Riley Park, Charleston, SC;
May 17 - USC-Aiken Convocation Center, Aiken, SC;
May 18 - Fluor Field, Greenville, SC
May 24 - USC-Sumter, Sumter, SC
May 25 - Darlington International Speedway, Darlington, SC.
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