One of the most exciting evenings of fun and entertainment in Elliott T. Bowers Stadium history begins Saturday with the "March to Bowers" by the Bearkat marching band and cheerleaders.

Sam Houston State hosts the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs in the annual Bearkat Family Weekend game at Bowers Saturday at 6 p.m.

At 4 p.m. the band, cheerleaders, Orange Pride and Sammy Bearkat will join with a variety of student organizations in a "mini-pep rally" at the Sam Houston mall.

Following the 10-minute "mini-pep rally," everyone involved will parade to the north end of the stadium to Bearkat Alley for the first pregame tailgate party of the season.

This weekend's tailgate party will feature all sorts of attractions including the Army ROTC rock wall for climbing, special displays by U.S. Army and veterans' groups and a classic car show.

At 4:30 p.m., when the gates to Bowers Stadium open, the Houston Texans cheerleaders will be signing autographs just inside the north gate under the scoreboard.

The first 3,000 fans through the gates each receive a free game program. At 5:40 p.m., the special Bearkat Family Weekend pregame festivities start.

At halftime, a special "Hillcrest Ford Heroes" presentation will honor Walker County veterans and police and fire department emergency service personnel.

Following the game will be a special fireworks display presented by Magic in the Sky of San Antonio, the official fireworks company of Fiesta Texas.

Sam Houston students and employees will receive one (1) general admission ticket on game day by presenting their BearkatOne card at the northeast entrance of Bowers Stadium. The student entrance is located under the scoreboard near the primary Bearkat Alley tailgate area.

For students and employees who like to plan in advance a new "Student Reserved" section has been put in place in the west grandstand. The seats are right at mid-field in the first 10 rows directly behind the Bearkat team bench.

Each student or employee, with a valid BearkatOne card number, may pick up one (1) general admission ticket on the west side of Bowers Stadium for themselves.There is a limit of 500 tickets that are distributed on "The Mall" Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until supplies last, whichever comes first.

All students and employees who have not picked up an advance ticket must enter through the north gate and have access to the east grandstand next to the SHSU band. Gates open 90 minutes before kickoff.

Tickets for all Bearkat home football games are onsale online now at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone number is 936 294-1729.