The Bayou Jamb 2019 will get a slight shakeup as the event moves from a two-day weekend event to Thursday and Friday evening.
This year’s event will still feature six games like 2018, but will begin on Thursday, Aug. 29 due to ULM’s home game with Grambling State on Saturday, Aug. 31.
“Last year solidified to me that we were able to do a two-day event, and with the change of high school and college football opening the same weekend we encountered a conflict,” said Patti Thurmon, who is the Bayou Jamb’s longtime marketing and promotions director. “Every coach wanted to continue to participate in the Bayou Jamb and have it at ULM even though there would be a change in the date slightly.”
Thurmon ensured this would be a one-year switch, as next season shouldn’t have any conflicting college football dates. In previous years, high school football jamborees would be played one week before the college football season.
“We hope to go back to the same Friday, Saturday format next year, and we will,” Thurmon said.
With the change in date came more alterations to the jamboree. Because it would put tremendous pressure on the volunteers to set up tents, stands and inflatable party games for a tailgate, this year’s event will not have the traditional setup outside of the stadium like recent years. And with the first game starting a 5 p.m., Thurmon said fans wouldn’t have much time between getting off of work and getting to the stadium to enjoy those festivities anyway.
“We are looking at other activities and things we can surround the event with, and that’s still to be determined,” Thurmon said. “And this isn’t related to the new tailgating with ULM because that is going to be a phenomenal space that they will develop and have. We just don’t think you can get off work and set up effectively before seeing the games.”
Most of the teams in last year’s event will return for the Bayou Jamb 2019. While it remains subject to change at this point, this year’s matchups include:
— St. Frederick vs. Jonesboro-Hodge (5 p.m. Thursday)
— Sterlington vs. Jena (6:30 p.m. Thursday)
— Ouachita vs. Ruston (8 p.m. Thursday)
— Franklin Parish vs. OCS (5 p.m. Friday)
— Mangham vs. Oak Grove (6:30 p.m. Friday)
— West Monroe vs. Neville (8 p.m. Friday)
Thurmon said last year’s 10th Bayou Jamb and first two-day event was the most successful to date with an estimated 11,000 attendees on the first day.
“It was very well attended, and I was always extremely confident that this event would be well attended,” Thurmon said. “The biggest concern was being able to manage two days as a staff. I think they blew it out of the water last year.”
Thurmon said the coaches’ willingness to be flexible with this year’s event is a testament to what the Bayou Jamb has grown to become.
“This event has definitely created a place in everybody’s heart and mind that it’s the official kickoff of the football season in our area,” Thurmon said. “It speaks volumes working with the coaches in the community and finding a way to say let’s not just pick it back up next year. We owe it to the community, schools and players to play it.”
This year’s honorees have not been decided yet, but Thurmon said she hopes to again honor two more coaches this year with one honoree being celebrated on each night.
Last year’s event honored former Oak Grove head coach Vic Dalrymple and former Jonesboro-Hodge, Ruston and West Ouachita coach Joey Pender with Lifetime Achievement Awards.