The date was October 20, 1990. What started as a homecoming celebration at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, quickly turned into hundreds of rioters vandalizing and starting fires, marking what many South Dakotans know as the Hobo Day Riots.

Along with a crackdown of alcohol in the dorms and spurred by a Jackrabbit football loss to Sioux Falls' Augustana (31-0), the usually quiet city and campus began to unwind.

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What is South Dakota State University's Hobo Day?

The Hobo Day homecoming tradition has been a memorable part of South Dakota State University for over a century. The roots of the celebration are in 1907 with the "Nightshirt Parade" when students dressed in sheets and PJs to encourage a football win.

The University didn't like the idea of women in their jammies outside in public, it was the nineteen aughts after all. So, in 1912 students took a page from other colleges and developed Hobo Day.

The first official Hobo Day at SDSU was on November 2, 1912. To celebrate the men grew beards and the women put on costumes, then they all met the opposing football team at the train station.

Over the years other traditions developed, including the parade and the Bummobile.

The 1990 South Dakota State University Hobo Day Riots

SDSU's Hobo Day 2023 celebration kicks of on October 9 with activities all week leading up to the football game on Saturday the 14th. The South Dakota State University Jackrabbits will take on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers.

Know Your South Dakota College and University Mascots

The college football experience is an ultimate high for football fans and it takes several other teams to make that happen week after week during the season.
Just think about what goes into gameday? First and foremost, the players and coaching staff who put in hours and hours of practice and training to play in front of their fans. Then there's field prep, game officials, live broadcasts, concessions, and on-the-field entertainment. Yep, entertainment.

Second to the game, who do you watch? The cheerleaders? The band at halftime? What about the mascot? That's a job not many people can do.
I asked Sioux Falls native and former Cagey mascot for the Sioux Falls Canaries and Little Red & Herbie for the Nebraska Huskers Nate Welch about being a mascot:

  • What does it take to be a mascot?
  • "Losing a bet or filling an opportunity!" Welch says, "An internal energized desire to love life. After meeting great performers who are introverts out of costume, they become the center of attention when they take the stage. And also feeding off the performance of others."
  • Why does the mascot never talk?
  • "Know your role and shut your mouth. You are there to entertain. Tell the story with your actions and not your voice."
  • Advice to someone putting on that costume for the first time?
  • "Remember you are now in a costume. Have fun. Otherwise, you're just a dork in tights. If the fur ain't flying you ain't trying."

Nate Welch has moved on from his days as a mascot to Executive Director of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company in Vermillion, South Dakota.

So, can you name the mascots at our South Dakota Colleges and Universities? Check out the gallery below:

Gallery Credit: Dave Roberts

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