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7 can’t-miss events at Family Weekend 2014

Family Weekend is one of Illinois State’s best fall traditions.

This year’s Family Weekend promises to be one of the biggest ever, as Illinois State welcomes back one of its most famous alumni for a show at Braden Auditorium. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Family Weekend schedule (September 12-14) is chock full of all-ages fun, from Redbird athletics to dueling pianos to roller skating. Check out the full schedule at

Here are 7 can’t-miss things to do at this year’s Family Weekend:

Redbirds at Family Weekend game

Redbirds at the 2013 Family Weekend football game at Hancock Stadium.


Nothing says Family Weekend like a game at Hancock Stadium, especially if your family hasn’t seen the venue since it was renovated last year. The Redbirds take on Eastern Illinois at 12 p.m. Saturday, September 13. Tickets for the football game can be purchased online or by calling (309) 438-8000.


Many Illinois State colleges and academic departments will host their own open houses throughout Family Weekend, each with its own unique program. Your family can take tours, meet faculty, join in a cookout, or even take part in special hands-on activities with your department. Open houses are scheduled for the College of Education; College of Business; Mennonite College of Nursing; the schools of Biological Sciences, Communication, and Information Technology; the departments of Family and Consumer Sciences, Agriculture, Military Science, and Chemistry; and the arts technology program. No tickets are required to attend departmental open houses.


There’s lots to do on the official Family Weekend schedule, but don’t forget to enjoy some downtime with your student. Meet their friends, see their residence hall room or apartment, and kick back and relax.

Redbird family tailgates

Another Redbird family tailgates before last year’s football game.


There are lots of affordable options for meals during Family Weekend, including three ticketed events. Redbird Family Lunch ($5 tickets) is 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, just before the football game, in the Redbird Tent Zone by Horton Field House. Dinner and a Show ($29 tickets) is 5–7:30 p.m. Saturday in Bone Student Center, featuring a full dinner buffet and dueling pianos. And before you head home, join us for the Sunday Brunch ($15 tickets) from 8:45–10:45 a.m. in the Bone Student Center. You can find links to buy tickets at

Also, Campus Dining invites all meal plan holders to bring up to two family members to dine for free for one meal in either of the dining centers during Family Weekend. A reservation form will be emailed directly to all meal plan holders in early September. Students must submit the form by September 10.


If you haven’t been to Uptown Normal recently, you’ll be blown away by how much it’s changed. There are new boutique shops and restaurants popping up everywhere, in addition to longtime favorites such as the Normal Theater and the Children’s Discovery Museum. Check out for more.

Craig Robinson headshot

Alum Craig Robinson will perform at Illinois State on Saturday, September 13.


There are all sorts of free events on the schedule too. University Program Board (UPB) is hosting a roller skating party on Friday night and its “ThinkFast” game show on Saturday night, both in the Bone Student Center. Over at the Student Fitness Center, up to 40 teams can compete in Campus Recreation’s “Minute to Win It” Family Challenge on Saturday night. (Team registration is strongly encouraged by September 8.) And art lovers can walk over to the University Galleries to view contemporary works from its permanent collection.


Last but certainly not least, Illinois State alum Craig Robinson ’94 is returning to campus for a one-night performance of stand-up, music, and more along with his Nasty Delicious band. Robinson co-starred on NBC’s The Office and the feature films Hot Tub Time Machine and This is the End, among many others. Tickets are $32 for the Braden Auditorium show, and are on sale now at Ticketmaster.

Ryan Denham can be reached at