Homecoming is a week of tradition and festivities, and faculty, staff and students work over the course of a year making sure the festive week is as a reminder that there really is no place like Nebraska.
A series of events — from cornhole tournaments and concerts to the Cornstock Festival — are included in the 153rd Homecoming Week under the theme Husker Throwback.
Students at Nebraska U play a crucial role in homecoming planning and coordination. Kayla Reynolds, senior biology major from Fort Collins, Colorado, and president of the Student Alumni Association, has been involved in planning homecoming events for the past three years. This year, she is organizing the traditions race, but she also helps committees plan all the events. She joined the Student Alumni Association to be involved in events like homecoming that bring together current students, alumni and Nebraskans.
“I thought it was really cool how tradition-oriented Nebraska is and it’s such a big part of the culture here,” she said. “I really liked that aspect and getting involved with other students and meeting alumni and making professional connections and networking.”
Reynolds served as the vice president of homecoming last year, which was the first year the Student Alumni Association had a position dedicated to homecoming. In that role, she oversaw the cornhole tournament and the jester competition. She had the opportunity to plan those events and prepare for her future role as president.
Planning for Homecoming 2022 began as soon as the 2021 celebration 2021 concluded. The Student Alumni Association Board of Directors met biweekly and to coordinate food vendors and suppliers for the carnival rides. During the spring semester, the committee reserved dates and locations.
Reynolds said this year, there are more food vendors and more rides.
“We are getting a lot more involved with homecoming,” Reynolds said. “It’s been cool for us to start implementing new ideas and making it bigger and better for the following years. It’s been fun to grow the whole week.”
Reynolds and the committee contribute a lot of hands-on work throughout the week’s events.
“Friday is the craziest day of the week,” she said. “We coordinate with the vendors all day long, set up tents and tables and food trucks and lighting for the stage. It is an all-hands-on-deck type of day, but it is super fun.
“This is just a really fun time of year in general, but all of the events, and especially the Cornstock Festival, are really good ways to form a community connection because it is open to everyone. Lots of people will bring their kids, and a lot of college students will come. It is a really fun way to bring everyone together and get excited and unified over Nebraska because that is the reason we are all here.”
The University Program Council at Nebraska also plays a major role in the homecoming atmosphere. As a group, they plan and organize events for the student body all year long, but their focus for homecoming week is to arrange the main concert. This year, the hip-hop rap artist Duckwrth will make a stop in Lincoln on his “Chrome Bull Tour” and headline the homecoming concert event at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Hana Pham, senior sociology major and entertainment chair for UPC, is in charge of coordinating the concert.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been really fun,” said Pham, a senior from Lincoln who is majoring in sociology and communication studies. “It’s a lot different than something we’ve ever worked on before.”
Pham has been a member of UPC for three years. She served as the diversity education chair last year.
“UPC splits up all of our events that we put on into either diversity education or entertainment, so I have been able to see both sides of that,” Pham said.
Pham wanted to join UPC because she thought that they seemed like a very fast paced organization. She saw a lot of impact on campus from the council, and she definitely wanted to be a part of it.
“I like working with UPC, but I find a benefit in working with everyone else,” Pham said. “I think homecoming is such a fun time of year, and I just love the idea of a free concert — who can really say no to that? I really wanted to have a say in that.”
The homecoming concert has never been held in Pinnacle Bank Arena before, but the popularity of the event necessitated a move.
“The concert was actually supposed to take place on East Campus, because that is where it is traditionally held,” she said. “I wanted to see something a little bit different, just based on the crowd that I saw at Yung Gravy last year.”
Last year there were 2,000 students at the homecoming concert, which reached max capacity. Pinnacle Bank Arena will provide ample seating so no one is turned away. Students can attend free, and the general public can purchase tickets for $8, plus taxes and fees.
“We hope to get more of the public scene because this is actually a part of Duckwrth’s national tour,” Pham said. “Obviously, our priority has always been serving the student body and making sure they have a good time.”
Pham and the council have been planning this event since the spring semester, when UPC started an event planning process where the committee discussed different artists they were able to afford and brought in a middle agent that proposed different talent to the university.
“They look at those lists and have a lengthy selection process with a lot of different votes and things to keep in mind,” she said. “It’s a long, complicated process, but we are super happy to be bringing Duckwrth.”
Since the booking, Pham has been working with Duckwrth and collaborating with agents, ensuring the best experience at Nebraska. Pham also has been coordinating volunteers, talking with PBA about logistics, and working with marketing side of UPC to get the word out to everyone.
“Collaborating with advisers, adults and students has been my favorite thing about UPC and planning this concert event,” she said. “It’s been interesting to see how valued my perspective is with administration at the school. It’s also been a lot of fun to collaborate with fellow students and hear their ideas and see how excited everyone is.”