A thundering herd will stampede through the streets of Starkville Saturday, laying waste to everything in its path. And by “laying waste” we mean chucking water balloons and bopping people with pool noodles.
The Mississippi Brawl Stars roller derby squad has been tapped to serve as the wild beasts in this year”s annual Running of the Bulldogs in the Cotton District. At 7 p.m. Saturday a group of brave men, women and children wearing maroon sashes to signify their participation will take off running from the corner of Maxwell Street and University Drive as the bulldog Brawl Stars give chase on their wheels of chaos, just as the bulls would in Pamplona, Spain. The major differences being that the bulls in Pamplona don”t nail the runners with water balloons, and the runners in Pamplona don”t stop halfway through the run for a beer.
Hobie Hobart, founder and president of the Mystic Society of the Cowbellion Bulldogs, didn”t organize the Running of the Bulldogs three years ago as a feat of athleticism or courage. It”s an excuse to run around and act goofy with fellow Bulldogs fans, drink beer, eat steak, listen to music and talk about sports.
“A lot of my buddies are not in the best shape. So we”ll take a mandatory break at Stagger In, at what we call Hamstring Hill, and stretch a little bit, breathe, indulge in a beverage or whatever. Then we”ll ring a cowbell and head back down Maxwell,” he said.
Anyone is welcome to participate in the running, but be quick or be wet.
Shannon “Shanaconda” Voges-Haupt of the Brawl Stars will be one of more than 20 rolling divas bearing down on the crowd.
“We”re each making a set of horns tailored to our personality. You”ll see devil horns, ram horns, unicorn horns, just to get us in character,” said Shanaconda. “They”re psyched. People in roller derby like the idea of beating up on people in any form.”
Even if just with a foam noodle.
Hobart enlisted the Brawl Stars to add another entertaining element to an already deep evening of fun.
Live music begins at 3 p.m. and runs through the event”s conclusion at 8 p.m. There will also be a championship steak cook-off with steak dinners on sale for $15 apiece. Many of the 75 dinner tickets have already been snapped up, but Hobart said there”s still a few left.
Several MSU coaches are expected to get on the mic and address the crowd, although Hobart isn”t exactly sure which ones will be on hand.
Several ministers will also be present to offer individual blessings for the food, the city and the football season. And a tribute will be offered to the late mascot Bully XIX.
The Angus ribeye steaks will be provided by Stockyard of Chicago. The tunes will be provided by Johnny and Drew, Danny Holland, The Cedar Creek Ramblers, The Bill Cooke Trio and Jumpin” Jeff, in that order. And the fear will be provided by the Mississippi Brawl Stars.
“I can guarantee you two things,” said Hobart of Saturday evening. “You”re going to have a good time and it”s going to be hot.”
Anyone wishing to participate in the “.1K” run or any portion of the evening can reach Hobart at 662-769-1715.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.