The Ultimate Tailgate Party may take place each year before the Huntington North High School varsity football team's first home game, but the funds raised at the event, and at others hosted by the Huntington Quarterback Club, benefit every football program in Huntington County.
The club, established in 2007, conducts fund-raisers to assist the Police Athletic League (PAL), Crestview and Riverview Middle Schools and Huntington North football programs with the purchase of equipment.
"We try and do these things to help the kids... last year we bought a five-man sled for the high school team," says Eric Fawcett, the club's president. "This year, we're working on buying a watering system for Crestview. We bought some uniforms, or helped with uniforms in the past, for the PAL."
The club, which hosted its 10th annual golf outing in May, also puts the funds it raises toward more than just equipment.
"The one constant we do have is we offer a scholarship to a senior football player that has to meet certain criteria, play four years of football, maintain a certain GPA," explains Fawcett. "We'll give him $500 a year for college, as long as he's meeting his grade requirements."
This year's Ultimate Tailgate Party is set to take place Friday, Aug. 23, outside Kriegbaum Field, in Huntington, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Vikings kick-off the regular season against Homestead at 7:30 p.m.
"The tailgate, it's a lot of work," says Fawcett. "We've got great parents and we've got great support in the community as far as companies that help sponsor the event."
Hamburgers, ribeyes, hotdogs and brats will be served, with a fee for adults and a reduced fee for youth ages 12 and under.
Fawcett credits parents with donating much of the food and thanks the city for providing a fence each year that encloses the tailgate area and the Parks Department for allowing the club to use picnic tables from Hier's Park.
"The tailgate is a nice way to start out the football year, to bring everybody together, and just support the team," says Fawcett. "Not only with just the high school, but with all the football teams."
Mike Schnitz (right) grills hotdogs as Jeff McCutcheon takes finished ones so they can be prepared and served to attendees of last year's Ultimate Tailgate Party outside Kriegbaum Field in Huntington, before the Huntington North High School varsity football team took on Kokomo. An annual fund-raiser for the Huntington Quarterback Club, this year's event is set to take place Friday, Aug. 23, outside Kriegbaum Field, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.