September 18, 2010 8:56:00 PM
Jan Swoope - email@example.com
Five days and counting. On Friday, two-time Grammy winner Jason Mraz will be the main attraction when Starkville''s Cotton District is transformed by Bulldog Bash. Billed as the largest free concert in Mississippi, the Bash estimates about 35,000 visitors will flock to festivities the night before Mississippi State University''s matchup with Georgia.
Mraz, the pop/rock singer-songwriter from Mechanicsville, Va., is a coup for organizers. The Bash is the only free concert on his tour this year.
"Looking at this event''s 11 year history, it''s grown so much," said Rhett Hobart, vice president of the MSU Student Association. "We''ve been getting calls and e-mails from people as far out as Arizona and Florida who are planning trips here for this."
Event co-director Meredith Sledge also noted organizers are working with their largest budget in Bulldog Bash history.
Two stages set up in the Cotton District will host live music, with the headliner scheduled from 10 p.m. to midnight on the Clark Beverage Group Main Stage. Mraz will be preceded by Space Capone (7-7:45 p.m.), George McConnell and the Nonchalants (8-8:45 p.m.) and Luc and the Lovingtons (9-9:45 p.m.). On the separate Ricks Cafe District Stage, SMAASH will entertain from 6:30-8 p.m., followed by the B.O.M.B. Squad from 8:30-9:30 p.m.
FanFare, pep rally
Pre-concert revelry kicks off with the MSU Alumni Association FanFare from 3-6 p.m. Free family fun will include inflatables for the children and plenty of food vendors. Then, fans will pump up the Bulldogs with DawgRally, which moves this year from the Junction to the Cotton District.
Vendors will be set up prior to FanFare and will continue selling throughout the concert.
In 2009, the Student Association brought mobile fundraising to the state of Mississippi for the first time through Bulldog Bash. More than $7,000 was donated to the United Way of North Central Mississippi. The mobile fundraising returns for Bulldog Bash 2010.
During the concert the crowd will be asked to use their cell phones to donate $5 to United Way by texting "NCMISS" to UNITED (864833).
"We''re excited to be working with Cellular South and are equally excited about our continued partnerships with the MSU Alumni Association and Clark Beverage Group," said Hobart. "This event wouldn''t be possible without the dedicated support of our corporate and community supporters."
Most roads surrounding stage areas will be closed for much of Sept. 24. Visitors are strongly encouraged to park on campus or toward the Cooley Physical Plant. A map is available at msubulldogbash.org.
ATM''s will be available at several locations throughout the festival grounds. The student association advises everyone to keep valuables safe and secure, noting the most frequently turned-in items at Lost and Found are credit cards, IDs and wallets.
Follow Bulldog Bash on Twitter (@mssstatesa) for a chance to win two VIP passes.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.