Annual football game is biggest festival held in Arkadelphia

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published November 8, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 7, 2012 at 10:54 a.m.
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The biggest game of the year for the college community of Arkadelphia will take place Saturday afternoon as the hometown favorite Reddies of Henderson State University take on the hometown favorite Tigers of Ouachita Baptist University.

“As an Arkadelphia native, I can tell you that everyone needs to go to one of the Battle of the Ravine games,” said Rex Nelson, radio voice of the OBU Tigers for 30 years and president of the OBU Alumni Association.

While the game has been a major event in Arkadelphia since 1895, it has not always attracted townspeople not affiliated with the two schools. The city and the two universities that occupy the northwestern entrance into the community don’t mix that often.

The Rally at the Ravine has been designed by the two schools and the Arkadelphia business community to bring the town and gown together.

“The tailgating and other activities have been going on for years, but we wanted it to be bigger,” said Misty Harris, this year’s chairwoman of the rally organization. “This idea started three years ago from the Clark County Leadership Class III. We saw there was no large festival in the community, but that the HSU/OBU game was the biggest event of the year. So we started adding events to bring in a huge crowd, not only of alumni of the two schools but people from the community and visitors.”

Harris, who is a graduate of Henderson, said the events are now open for everyone.

“They were very successful the first year, and we are making it bigger this year for larger crowds,” she said.

Harris said she thinks the Battle of the Ravine has become more friendly this year, as the pranks are now on a much smaller scale.

“The record is close, but enough of the people don’t have a close tie to the outcome of the game; it is just friendlier,” she said.

Saturday’s activities will begin with three running events. The Junior Auxiliary in Arkadelphia will sponsor a 5K run, called the Angel Run, at 8 a.m.

“The event sponsors Christmas gifts for children, who may not [otherwise have had] a Christmas, through the Clark County Angel Tree,” Harris said. “The Andy Allison Super Kids Run, scheduled for 9 a.m., has been going on for years but is now part of the day’s events. And the American Heart Association Heart Chase will begin at 9 to raise funds for the county’s Walk for the Cure event.”

During the tailgating time, from about 9 a.m. until game time at 3 p.m., the Rally organization will sponsor carnival rides and bounce houses.

“There will be five large rides and two for smaller children, along with local bands,” Harris said.

From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., the food-service operations at both schools will provide meals for $6 each for everyone at the event.

Even the food and serving have become a competition between the two schools.

Sherry Wright of Henderson’s alumni services said Aramark, the food-service contractor for the school, will smoke a whole hog, boil shrimp and grill brats this year.

Last year, OBU’s food service company, Sodexo, served its tailgaters at tables with white linens and silverware.

The HSU alumni will have their own pep rally at 12:45.

The largest event planned by the Rally at the Ravine organization will be the Fall Ball-Block Party on Clinton Street, starting at 6 p.m. after the game.

“The block party is new this year and will go until 11 on Saturday night,” Harris said. “This year, 25 percent of the beer sales will go to benefit the Downtown Network that promotes downtown Arkadelphia. We do not have an A&P tax, so we are trying to find a way to aid promotion of the area.”

Harris said it would be a family-friendly event for the entire community. There will be two bands at the block party, just as there will be two local bands playing live music during the tailgating.

For more information about the events to be held before, during and after the game, go to facebook.com/BattleOfTheRavine or call Carrie Price at (870) 246-5811.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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