Fans enjoy the homecoming game at Schoellkopf Field

On a Glorious Fall Weekend, Cornellians Come Home 

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The traditional Big Red celebration featured tailgating, fireworks, athletic contests, concerts, and much more

By Joe Wilensky

Gorgeous weather and throngs of Cornellians made for a picture-perfect Homecoming weekend. More than 1,800 alumni, parents, and friends returned to the Hill to attend headline events like the football game and Big Red Fan Festival, along with some 5,000 students.

In all, the weekend comprised more than 50 events, concerts, showcases, and pop-ups by colleges, units, and affinity groups.

The always-spectacular fireworks and laser light show illuminated Schoellkopf on Friday night, and the Glee Club and Chorus Homecoming Concert filled Bailey with song.

On Saturday, carnival games, music, food and drink, photo booths, and other fun took over the Crescent Lot for the Fan Festival.

The Homecoming Grape Stomp returned for the first time since 2019
The CALS Grape Stomp was back!

Turning heads at the festival—and looking fabulous, as always—was a fan favorite: Vet College equine ambassador Minnie the miniature horse, sporting a braided mane and tail, glittery hooves, and a sparkly “C” painted on her flank.

(As befits a celebrity, she calmly munched hay as Cornellians young and old lined up to meet her, snap selfies, and snag a spongy, Minnie-branded “stress horse.”)

For the first time since 2019, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences held its popular Homecoming Grape Stomp—along with chardonnay juice samples.

And of course, Cornellians hosted a table where we distributed some of the festival’s most coveted swag—a striped knit beanie branded with our logo—to those who participated in this year’s thought exercise: “What Makes Cornell Feel Like Home to You?”

We’ll soon share a sampling of the hundreds of responses—which were colorfully displayed on Post-It notes in our booth—on our site, along with a story and video. (Stay tuned!)

More than 250 student entertainers showed off their talents at the festival’s bandstand, and a rousing performance by the Big Red Marching Band led fans into the football game against Colgate.

An alum takes in the Big Red spirit before the game against Colgate
Big Red spirit before the game.

Sadly, although the home team was leading at halftime, it suffered a tough 35-25 loss following a Colgate rally in the fourth quarter.

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Still, the game was a bonanza of Big Red spirit: Touchdown brought his ursine best, and cheerleaders and dancers revved up the crowd.

In addition to football, the weekend included nearly a dozen contests in a variety of sports including polo, volleyball, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer, and baseball.

Among the highlights: The women of Big Red sailing won the Maritime Fall Open and finished second at the ACC Semifinals—the best finish in program history.

In another Homecoming tradition, 14 alumni were inducted into the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023.

Members of the Big Red football team get amped up before the Homecoming game at Schoellkopf Field
Amped up for the big game!

The august group includes Olympic medalists, NCAA champions, and star athletes from the NHL and NFL.

Additionally, retired athletic director Andy Noel was inducted in honor of his nearly quarter-century of service to the Big Red.

Top: The spirited crowed in Schoellkopf. All images in this story by Cornell University photographers Noël Heaney, Sreang Hok, and Jason Koski, and by Rachel Philipson Photography. Video by Ryan Young/Cornell University.

Published October 4, 2023

What are your favorite Homecoming memories?

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