By Jourdan Rodrique, SDA Communications
Thousands flocked to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday morning for the second-annual Sun Devil Football Fan Fest.
Burgers sizzled on maroon-and-gold grills, children bounced their way through various inflatable attractions, and everywhere fans showcased their Arizona State colors and pride.
“To me, Fan Fest is all about involvement,” said ASU alumni and 40-year season ticketholder William Williams. He was a part of the event’s traditional tailgating contest, and hoped to stun the judges with his famous “Rose Bowl Burgers”, a savory combination of beef, green chili, bacon, and guacamole. “And it means football season is getting closer.”
Fan Fest, a free event, also showcased the North End Zone project as well as familiar Sun Devil traditions and trophies like the Territorial Cup. Parents supervised their children in the Kids Zone, presented by the Junior Sun Devil Club and Shamrock Foods, while at the entrance to the stadium representatives from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance collected hundreds of pounds of canned food items. Fans were also able to pose for pictures with the Territorial Cup and Sun Devil gear at the Social Media Command Center and attend a postgame autograph session with the players.
Sun Devils both young and old were eager to participate in the Fan Fest.
“It’s a great event to welcome back fans and alumni,” said former ASU swimmer Stephen Estes. “We’re all excited about football season, and it’s nice to have this event to get everyone pumped. ASU is in the blood.”
Many fans were curious to see how Todd Graham’s 2014 squad would perform, especially with all of its new defensive members and six returning All-Pac-12 performers in quarterback Taylor Kelly, running back DJ Foster, wide receiver Jaelen Strong, tight end De’Marieya Nelson, offensive lineman Jamil Douglas, and kicker and Lou Groza Award semifinalist Zane Gonzalez. The casual Spring Game had competitive undertones as it had been hyped within the team for several weeks, with pride and a steak dinner on the line for the winner between Maroon and Gold.
Many Sun Devil Football alumni showed up to welcome the new members and greet old teammates and coaches. Former ASU quarterback Jake Plummer called the game for Pac-12 Networks, defensive tackle Will Sutton was an honorary captain, and big names from 2013 like tight end Chris Coyle and Chris Young were also in attendance.
“It feels a little weird to not be playing,” said Coyle. “But this is a great tradition and it’s awesome to come back and see all of the fans, players, and coaches.”
Maroon defeated Gold 29-23 in front of a record crowd of 8,456 loyal Sun Devils. After the game fans were able to go on the field to meet their favorite players.
“These fans are awesome,” said Kelly. “It’s a great atmosphere for fans to be able to come out here and support us and we get to meet them and sign autographs for them.”