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by Tribune Staff

For more than four decades, Thanksgiving in New Orleans has meant two things.

First, good food—of course. Kitchens across the metro area are sure to be filled with wafting aromas of the holiday staples locals crave—fried turkey, honey ham, gumbo, stuffed bell peppers…and much more.

The second is Bayou Classic—battling bands, the Greek show, the classic gridiron rivalry between Southern and Grambling universities’ football teams…and much, much more. Thanksgiving 2017 will not disappoint as students and staff of both schools, along with fans, alumni and locals gear up for the annual event that is expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors to the city with an economic impact of more than $50 million.

According to its website, the event is a tribute to historically Black colleges and universities that celebrates all the tradition they hold—sportsmanship, marching bands, friendly competition and academic excellence. And as the event has grown over the years, so has the wide array of experiences it offers, with something for just about everyone to enjoy.

The 44th annual Bayou Classic starts with the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge at 1 p.m. Friday Nov. 24 at the Hyatt Regency, 501 Loyola Avenue. Now in its second year, the BizTech Challenge is designed to give students in STEM and business-related studies the opportunity to team up and create business ideas that will help benefit their communities. The Challenge offers four categories—general entrepreneurial, advanced manufacturing, clean energy and digital technologies. This year, 98 students and their faculty advisors, representing 24 teams, have registered to participate in the challenge.

Five teams will be selected as finalists, which will all present their comprehensive business plans to the public Friday Nov. 24 at the Hyatt Regency. The winning team will be selected by a panel of expert judges and will be presented with a cash prize of $10,000 before the Bayou Classic on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“The BizTech Challenge is the perfect opportunity for HBCU students to showcase their talent and capacity for innovation,” said Genevieve Silverman, executive director of NexusLA. “It provides them with an avenue to success in a field in which they have been historically underrepresented, and that is, at its core, what the BizTech Challenge is all about.

The Greek Show and Battle of the Bands kick off later Friday, Nov. 24 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25 offers a full day of events that begin with the Doc Griggs 2X Around the Dome walk at 8 a.m. and continues with the annual Bayou Classic parade which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the French Market and ends at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

The revelry continues from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with the FanFestival at Champion Square. And the game starts at 4 p.m. in the Superdome. Marching band enthusiasts that missed Friday night’s events will get a chance to see both schools’ bands perform in the highly-anticipated halftime show.

The Official Bayou Classic After Party goes down at Metropolitan Nightclub, 310 Higgins Blvd., with doors opening at 11 p.m. Saturday. And the Bayou Classic Gospel Brunch caps off a full weekend of events Sunday, Nov. 26, at The House of Blues, with doors opening at 10 a.m.

For more information or tickets, visit mybayouclassic.com. The Bayou Classic app is also available for iPhone and android users.

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