Fan Fests Bring BYU Fans Together With Cougar Football Team
FARMINGTON, Utah – BYU fan fests have returned after three years away. The last time BYU athletics hosted fan fest events that included members of the BYU football team was in 2019.
Fan fests went away in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, BYU still hosted a virtual event to keep fans engaged amidst the early days of the pandemic. Then in 2021 there was an event in Las Vegas the night before BYU’s opening game against Arizona.
Over the years, BYU fan fests have traveled around the country. But this year, they focused on the fans in Utah, with an event on May 11 in Farmington, then one in St. George on May 21.
BYU Fan Fest is a chance to give back to the community
It’s an opportunity for fans of BYU sports to see their favorite athletes and coaches away from just a game-day setting. From autograph sessions, NFL Combine-style drills, photos with Cosmo, and even the chance to buy an off-season Cougar Tail.
“It really means a lot because these guys like to give back to the community,” said BYU’s Director of Football Relations Jack Damuni to KSL Sports. “So this is one way they are able to give back to the community and share their talents with all of these little kids. They only see them on the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium or on TV. But here, they get the chance to talk to them and play with them and just to have fun.”
At the Farmington Fan Fest earlier this month, BYU football coach Kalani Sitake stayed till 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the event ended, to ensure all fans who attended had the chance to interact with the seventh-year head coach.
Sitake always makes it a point of emphasis that BYU football is a big family. The fans factor into that family for Sitake.
Kalani Sitake: What we can do to bring the fans together with our team
“What makes BYU special are the people. The people are the fans and Cougar Nation; they’ve been big-time for so long. That’s why I’m so happy about the Big 12 invite because it kind of confirms what we all knew,” Sitake said to KSL Sports. “I grew up a BYU fan. Many of our players grew up BYU fans as well. So, being able to connect with the fans and see them and be available to them, the access to our players and our team is important that we provide these moments. Fan fests like this, and opportunities to see them even after games or during practice, stuff like that; whatever we can do to bring the fans together with our team.”
Damuni, who has been with BYU since Sitake took over the program in 2016, echoes the passion Sitake has for BYU fans.
“Coach Kalani is always loyal to his fans. He loves the fans and he knows that without the fans, we wouldn’t be where we are at today,” said Damuni. “They give us that energy on and off the field. It’s something that is very important to Coach Kalani and his players. Look at his line; he will stay here until everybody goes home with a signed autograph. That’s how much he really loves the fans here; he’ll do anything for the fans. So it’s players and then fans for Coach Kalani. He loves his players and his fans.”
BYU’s fan fest in St. George will be held at Sandtown Park (600 N. Bluff St.) from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (MT).
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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