Gail Hairston

Tradition Speaks to the Family

Published: Oct 2, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 2, 2012) — Tradition abounds at the University of Kentucky. It’s imbedded in the brick and mortar of the university’s buildings and halls.  As they have for decades, familiar fight songs and cheers resound at UK athletic events. Several generations of students have been rubbing the bronze foot of a former university president’s statue during finals week, just for the little bit of extra luck it might bring.


The New Student and Parent Programs (NSPP) staff relishes the responsibility of teaching new Wildcats — and their families — the joy of being a UK Wildcat.  This Oct. 5-7 is perhaps one of the most important weekends of the school year because the focus will be on the parents, siblings and grandparents of students; it’s UK Family Weekend, another great UK tradition.


“Family Weekend is a great time for families to share in their son or daughter’s UK experience for a few days,” said Nancy Stephens, assistant director of NSPP. “We try to put together a diverse schedule of events that showcases the best of UK and Lexington. We like to think there is something that appeals to every member of the family on our calendar.”


An invitation went out last month asking families to visit campus during the first weekend of October to be a part of their student's UK experience for this special weekend. A flexible schedule of events allows ample time for families to take part in the activities that interest them, while allowing plenty of private family time as well. The events reflect the wide variety of activities and resources that are available to students throughout the year as well as some special opportunities just for Family Weekend participants.


Visitors can do everything from cheering on the Wildcats in Commonwealth Stadium to working out together at the Johnson Student Recreation Center. Numerous campus offices have special hours to accommodate tours, or families can visit downtown Lexington, Keeneland Race Course or nearby parks and recreation areas. You can eat barbecue with hundreds of UK fans before the football game as well as enjoy an intimate Sunday brunch at historic Spindletop Hall.


“I love to spend special time with my daughter on campus and in the Lexington area,” said Wildcat mother Laura Pruim.  “Last year she was a freshman and we really enjoyed the Sunday brunch at Spindletop and walking around the grounds there. It was a beautiful fall day. The game was fun also. This year we are doing the game, the tailgate tent, the Sunday brunch and also 'Phantom of the Opera.'”


But don’t forget to purchase tickets now. While tickets for some events will be available on site, tickets to the Family Weekend Tent Party and Sunday brunch at Spindletop must be purchased in advance and are limited in quantity. Tickets for the Spindletop brunch must be purchased by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, and tickets for the tent party must be purchased by 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. The Student Center Ticket Office is happy to help with both events. Send your student to see them in the Student Center, or you can reach them by phone at (859) 257-TICS. Check the Family Weekend website for ticket details.


Perhaps the first stops, especially for parents of new students, should be the UK Visitor Center located in the basement of the Main Building and the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau in downtown Lexington to learn more about campus and Lexington.


Parents will find official Family Weekend guides — a great publication that includes the schedule of events, campus maps, parking information, information on attending the football game and more — at the Family Weekend Check-in and Resource Fair on Friday evening. The event is in the Boone Center on the corner of Rose Street and Columbia Avenue. More than a dozen offices and organizations on campus will be represented, but the best part is a special Family Weekend souvenir that is only available at Check-in. The Check-in and Resource Fair will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.


With the UK-Mississippi State football game kicking off at 12:21 p.m. Saturday, the tent party will get underway at 10 a.m. with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts, followed by  barbecue, coleslaw, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chips, and cookies. The tent party is the only place to get the official Family Weekend 2012 T-shirt; it is included in the price of the ticket. To get a sneak preview of the T-shirt, check out the Parent Association Facebook page.


The tent will be located at the corner of Farm Road and Nicholasville Road next to the Gluck Equine Research Center. There will be signage at major intersections around the stadium and a map in the Family Weekend guide.


“I am very excited this year to be sharing the day with my two youngest sons (a freshman and senior) and all their fraternity brothers,” said Shelly Hudson. “Getting to meet all their friends gives me comfort that they are adjusting well. The chance to meet other parents and share our excitement and concerns is priceless!”


If you have questions about Family Weekend, please contact the UK Parent Association at (859) 257-6597 or email

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