By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Need a reason to attend this week’s Blue Gold Community Showcase on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus?
Here are a few: food, fun and free stuff – lots and lots of free stuff.
UNK’s annual back-to-school bash, scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Friday (Aug. 23) on the Campus Greens near the Bell Tower, is expected to attract 2,000 to 3,000 students, staff, faculty and community members, as well as about 200 vendors with tables and tents stocked with prizes and products to give away.
“It’s a great way for us to show our support for UNK and the students who are coming back to campus,” Raising Cane’s marketing adviser Samantha Huff said of the event.
Raising Cane’s, which opened its Kearney location in November 2017, is participating in the Blue Gold Community Showcase for the first time, but the restaurant chain already knows how to stand out in a crowd. The business plans to hand out samples of its famous chicken fingers, Cane’s sauce and freshly squeezed lemonade, and attendees can spin the prize wheel for a chance to win a free combo meal card, T-shirt, sunglasses and other fun swag items.
“Everyone is going to walk away a winner,” Huff said.
The Raising Cane’s tent will also have employment information available for students and community members interested in job opportunities.
“We’re excited to participate,” Huff said. “We want to be a partner in the community. It’s the community that’s keeping our doors open, so this is the least we can do to give back to Kearney.”
Part of UNK’s Blue Gold Welcome Week festivities, the showcase connects UNK students with the community while introducing them to numerous businesses, organizations and services in the city.
“There are a lot of businesses that college kids don’t know are in Kearney,” said Lindsie Breazeale, a 2017 graduate of UNK who works as the marketing director at Hilltop Mall.
Breazeale called the Blue Gold Showcase a wonderful opportunity to promote the mall and its 30 stores while interacting with current Lopers and their families.
“We get to put our business right in front of all these new people in town,” she said. “It’s really good for us.”
Hilltop Mall, an annual participant in the showcase, will have T-shirts, cups, bags and coupons to give away Friday. Plus, people can try their hand at an oversize flip cup game.
“It’s a really fun event,” Breazeale said.
Like Raising Cane’s, the Kearney mall will be promoting job opportunities.
“We find a lot of our stores’ employees through UNK,” Breazeale said. “It’s not just that we’re getting business from them, we’re getting help from them, too.”
The Blue Gold Community Showcase, which is free and open to the public, also features family-friendly games, live entertainment and a picnic hosted by UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen.
UNK is still accepting registrations from businesses and organizations looking to participate in the event. Registration forms are available online at unk.edu/showcase. There is no cost to reserve a space.
For more information, contact the Office of Student Engagement at 308-865-8523.
BLUE GOLD WELCOME WEEK SCHEDULE
Friday, Aug. 23
Residence Halls and Dining Services Open
8 to 11 am – New Student Move In
3 to 3:50 pm – New Students and Family Sendoff (Copeland Hall)
3:50 pm – Class of 2023 parade (Campus Greens near Bell Tower)
4 pm – New Student Welcome Convocation (Health and Sports Center)
5 to 8 pm – Blue Gold Community Showcase and Chancellor’s Picnic (Campus Greens)
7 pm – Pride of the Plains Marching Band Exhibition (Foster Field)
9 to 10:30 pm – Playfair with activities and games for new students (Foster Field)
10:30 to 11:30 pm – Late-night doughnuts and UNK traditions for new students (Foster Field)
Saturday, Aug. 24
2 pm – Soccer exhibition game vs Omaha United (Cope Stadium)
6 pm – Tailgate prior to Loper Football scrimmage (Foster Field)
7 pm – Loper Football scrimmage (Foster Field)
8:30 to 11 pm – Lopers Rock the Night with snow cones, doughnuts and music for all students (Foster Field)
Sunday, Aug. 25
5 to 8 p.m. – Party in the Park with dinner, sand volleyball, splash competition and other activities for all students (Harmon Park)
Monday, Aug. 26
First day of fall classes
Thursday, Aug. 29
7 to 10 pm – Destination Downtown (Downtown Kearney)
Friday, August 30
7:30 pm – Free Movie: Napoleon Dynamite (The World Theatre, Downtown Kearney)
Saturday, Sept. 7
9 to 11 pm – LPAC outdoor movie (South side of Copeland Hall)