ESPN, tailgating, free breakfast and Operation Sombrero to highlight weekend events leading up to Holy War

Joe Beatty

Sports Writer

While the Utah State Fair officially took place in September, Saturday looks like it will have a definite carnival feel.

Anyone wandering around or near Rice-Eccles Stadium between Friday afternoon and game time will have a hard time finding peace and quiet. From radio shows to cook-offs, here is a look at some of the festivities happening on Holy War weekend.

Tailgate to your heart’s content

Tailgating is to start early Friday evening, and diehard fans are encouraged to start arriving at 6 p.m.

KUTV Channel 2 will sponsor a Red vs. Blue cook-off in the tailgate lot (west of the Veterans Administration Hospital). The event will be shown live on the 10 p.m. newscast and will pit chefs representing both schools. Part of the judging revolves around the amount of support that shows up for each university.

Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Hot Ticket 700 AM will be throwing an all-night party in the tailgate lot. Radio hosts Matt Thomas and Bill Reilly will hang out with Ute fans all night. The official radio-station bus will be parked and a big-screen TV will provide late-night entertainment. Fans who wish to sleep may set up tents across the street on the MUSS tailgating lawn. The MUSS will have its usual game day tailgate party north of the Eccles Tennis Center (500 South and Guardsman Way). The event will run from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Home to where the sombrero is

One group in particular is going to great lengths to promote Utah’s Fiesta Bowl dreams. Early Saturday morning will mark the culmination of Operation Sombrero.

The main Web site for U fans, www.utefans.net, will sell sombreros for $2 to the fans who are braving the early morning cold to attend the ESPN “College Football GameDay” broadcast.

The Web site has taken donations to buy the hats in bulk, and will try to get as many sombrero-clad Utah fans on TV as possible. Supplies are limited, so the organizers are asking fans to try to buy their own sombreros before the event (about $2 at any local party supply store), as to have a maximum fiesta atmosphere at the live ESPN broadcast.

Utefans.net will have its tailgate and Operation Sombrero headquarters set up on the west side of the tailgate lot.

Lee and the ESPN “GameDay” bunch

Speaking of “GameDay,” Lee Corso, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be broadcasting their national show live at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The stage will be set up in the parking lot directly west of Rice-Eccles stadium.

Free breakfast will be served to the first 5,000 fans in attendance (starting at 7:30 a.m.) and pom-poms will be handed out to the first 10,000 fans. The university is trying to get 20,000 Ute supporters to the free event. This is the first time that the wildly popular show has come to Utah.

In addition to the 8:30 a.m. live show, tapings that will be shown on “SportsCenter” will be filmed from noon to 2 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The trio will also broadcast a radio show from the same location at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Fans are allowed and encouraged to attend all tapings and broadcasts.

Southeast of the stadium parking lot that will house the ESPN “GameDay” crew is Caldron Park (South of the south Rice-Eccles stands). The park will be open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., with concessionaires selling food, apparel, and all things BYU and Utah.

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