After a whirlwind 1,263-mile trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the BYU football on Saturday, I’m finally home. When this year’s football schedule was released earlier this year, I knew Arkansas was a top option as I love to travel to away games that offer unique travel experiences and unfamiliar places you would rarely ever find yourself.
The time finally came to board our flight from Salt Lake City to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, to our pleasant surprise, several friends and acquaintances were also headed to the game. Upon arrival in Tulsa, we got our rental car and started our 1 hour and 45-minute trek to our Airbnb in Rogers, Arkansas, a city just outside of Bentonville, and slightly smaller than Lehi with a population of 71,000.
The drive from Oklahoma to Arkansas offered rolling hills of farmland and surprisingly, a lot of trees. We passed through a large Cherokee Nation Reservation and then drove through a few quaint small towns in western Arkansas with large lots and few fences.
We pulled up to a little house on a dead-end street with no sidewalks or paved driveways that would be home for the long weekend trip, just two blocks from charming downtown Rogers.
The day and a half leading up to the game included exploring all that Northwest Arkansas, (“NWA” as the locals call it) had to offer. We went through the War Eagle Cavern off Beaver Lake, walked around Downtown Bentonville (the home of Walmart’s headquarters), and visited the world-famous Crystal Bridges Museum. The area offered green natural beauty with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
We experienced great southern food throughout the trip from the ever-popular Wrights Barbeque to chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, beans, and cornbread at the War Eagle Mill.
Saturday came around and it was game day. We headed down south to Fayetteville, your typical college town filled with student housing, busy roads, and school pride. We even passed by the University of Arkansas School of Agriculture and Equine Studies with beautiful farmland where students learn about an American pillar, farming.
We parked at a nearby fraternity house about two blocks from the stadium and headed up “The Hill” in royal blue as we walked through a sea of red. The walk to the stadium was through campus where hundreds of tailgate parties and thousands of fans were enjoying pregame festivities rivaled by very few schools in the U.S. Everyone we encountered was friendly and welcoming with their thick southern accents and the ladies all dressed to the nines.
We descended “The Hill” and approached Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, a simple but beautiful brick and glass building with a huge Razorback logo right in the middle. We headed to our gate, right in front of the Razorback statue commemorating Arkansas’s 1964 National Championship. We entered the stadium and were greeted by the “Hogspitality” crew handing out BYU stickers to the kids that said, “Arkansas welcomes BYU Fans.” We found our seats in the visitor section among a sea of royal blue cougar faithful and settled in for the game. What a view with picturesque green rolling hills in every direction.
The night kicked off with the National Anthem filled with fireworks and a jet flyover in SEC Football fashion while the fans “called the pigs” with their famous “woo pig sooie” chant.
To start the second quarter, the “Hogspitality” crew was back with even better offerings, local kettle corn from nearby Eureka Springs for visiting fans. The tradition was recently formed after Razorback fans raved about the hospitality of BYU and its fans last season after receiving complimentary BYU Creamery ice cream, as is customary at BYU games for the away team fans.
Despite BYU’s rough start: 0-14 in about three minutes, when the sun set and the cool fall air rolled in, the Cougars were ready to rise and shout with a thrilling comeback win on a memorable night.
Cougar fans from far and wide witnessed the magical game with a record-setting crowd of 74,821. The eighth largest attendance in Arkansas Razorback Football history.
What a trip it was! Thank you to the Northwest Arkansas community for your southern charm.