fall family weekend

Alumna Maggie Gates poses with her mother during the 2017 Fall Family Weekend.

It’s that time of year again. Fall Family Weekend, previously called Zag Fam Weekend, begins Friday and will run through Sunday.

Jim Fawcett, coordinator of Parent and Family Relations, said that we can expect about 10,000 people to be on campus because Friday is also Preview Day.

Fawcett said there are about 3,600 people registered for the weekend so far, but the number is expected to increase. In terms of parking, Campus Security and Public Safety won’t be ticketing vehicles, so families are welcome to park wherever they can find a spot.

Kevin Fagan is an event coordinator for Fall Family Weekend and works in the Office of Parent and Family Relations. He has been working with Fawcett and their team to curate an event for families and students alike.

“This weekend is called Family Weekend instead of just parents weekend because we understand that many students have a support system beyond just parents and we strive to be as inclusive as possible with this weekend and through the Parent and Family Relations Office,” he said.

Fawcett said that many of the weekend’s events require registration, and the initial fee of $55 covers the student and one family member, and the cost is $15 for every family member registered after that.

A new facet of the weekend is the name change, which happened this year.

“We moved away from Zag Fam just for the name change because the responsibility got shifted. And so to kind of rebrand it a little bit,” Fawcett said.

This is the first year that Parent and Family Relations has taken over Fall Family Weekend. They even created their own logo for the event. Under its guidance, the weekend has undergone some changes, including new programming, as well as adding to old traditions.

The first is a ticketed event called ‘Gastro Tour Gonzaga’.  The Parent and Family Relations Office partnered with Zag Dining to create a food and beverage pairing event that is open to families.

“We sold 21-and-over tickets as well as family friendly tickets," Fawcett said. "They'll go in and there will be six to seven different stations that they can stop at get the bite to eat. It's all going to be a locally sourced.”

For those over 21 years old, this includes a beverage pairing option. There will also be a cash bar where they can receive a ‘full pour’ of a beverage they enjoyed.

In wake of last weekend's sudden cold front and storm, the office has prepared for any weather.

“That's going to be outside under our huge tent that's going to have heat and lighting and everything,” said Fawcett. “So we're prepared for that event rain or shine."

There is no shortage of activities to take part in throughout the weekend, and families can find whatever activities are right for them. 

“It is hard to say what exactly I am most excited for, but there is so much new programming offered for the students and families throughout the weekend, from our Gastro Tour Gonzaga, to escape rooms with Spikenites, to Bowl and Pitcher Hikes through Gonzaga Outdoors," Fagan said. "We cannot wait to have our families on campus soon."

Fall Family Weekend is also put on by additional university groups, such as SpikeNites, who is doing escape rooms in the John J. Hemmingson Center on Friday. There will also be a showing of Toy Story 4 for free in the Hemmingson Auditorium.

This weekend also includes events that require separate registration. Ticketed events include the 60 by 60 Dance Performance, the Jazz Sampler Concert, The Musical Theatre and Dance Revue, Concert choir, Camp Rosauer and the Bowl and Pitcher Hike Shuttle. Camp Rosauer tickets for children can also be purchased for kids age 4-11.

The Bowl and Pitcher hike is one of the new events, and it gives families a chance to explore the Spokane beyond GU’s campus.

“Gonzaga Outdoors is partnering with us and so they're going to have guys out there to take groups of like 20 people at a time to go through and be like an hour and then they'll come back in a shuttle and we'll take them back to campus,” Fawcett said. 

There will be a full event schedule available online to families and students as well as at registration where there will be people to guide families and answer questions.

At registration, families will receive a new gift that is also practical for some of the weekend events: a clear bag. The new bag rule for McCarthy Athletic Center makes it so there are new requirements for what can be brought into the arena, which makes the new clear bag given to families at registration perfect for Kraziness in the Kennel, which will be happening at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday

“We have a clear bag that meets their size requirements and everything and it's branded with the full family logo and our sponsors,” said Fawcett. “So everybody will have a bag that they can bring into McCarthy for that.”

Another big event is the pep rally on Saturday, which is a huge event complete with food trucks, games and entertainment for people of all ages.

“At the pep rally on Saturday we're going to have 10 food trucks and that meal is part of their registration,” said Fawcett. “So we'll have a meal ticket to go to the food trucks and pick up our meal.”

The pep rally also includes  a 90-foot inflatable obstacle course, inflatable basketball and several performances. There will also be a corn hole tournament during the carnival. Nighttime events will follow this event.

“That night we have trivia in the Starbucks lounge and at the same time on the COG second floor we've got these coffee mugs that have the Fall Family Weekend logo and the SpikeNites logo on them," Fawcett said.

The final event will be a Mass in the Hemmingson Ballroom at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, which concludes the weekend.

“From Kraziness in the Kennel to the pep rally to going and seeing the changing autumn colors out at Green Bluff, this weekend offers so much for Zag families to do,” said Fagan. “For students, I think not only is it great to have a couple of meals paid for by your family but also to see your friends' parents and family and to create shared experiences with them and I think this weekend is truly a time where we feel like one big Zag family."

Jordan Tolbert is a staff writer. 

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