With music blasting and grills smoking, the east side of the Columbus Civic Center was a sea of vehicles, trailers and vans for what some people described as a big family reunion on Saturday.
Cleophus Hope, a retired educator with the Muscogee County School District, was among the hundreds of people tailgating for the 24th Annual Fountain City Classic where the Albany State Golden Rams defeated the Fort Valley State Wildcats, 19-10.
"Whenever it started, I was one of the first tailgaters," Hope said.
Hope smiled as he watched his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, perform a dance in the parking lot. He didn't attend either of the schools, but both his sons went to Albany State University.
Near Lumpkin Boulevard, Mary Lewis and her sister, Dorothy Mabry, both graduates of Fort Valley, shared a trailer with their twin nieces, Donna and Darlene Thomas, both graduates of Albany State. They were seated in front of the camper trailer as Mabry put the finishing touches on some fish.
Lewis, a 1972 graduate with a degree in sociology, said the gathering allows the family to continue supporting the school.
"I think Fort Valley came a long way," she said. "I support it. Without the support, the school itself would die."
Before attending Fort Valley, Lewis grew up in Ellerslie and graduated from Carver High School in Hamilton in 1968. For the last eight years or more, she said the Fountain City Classic football game has been an event to help bring people together.
Many people who come to the game are from Harris County, she said.
"Today, it's like a big family reunion," Lewis said.