On Nov. 11, veterans in Faulkner County will be honored at a Community Tailgate party full of red, white and blue patriotism outside of Estes Stadium on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

The event runs from noon to 3 p.m.

Melanie Epperson, staff senate president, said the tradition of honoring veterans began in 1996 with short annual ceremonies. 

Epperson said she became part of the staff senate, she signed up to be on the committee to work on the veterans event. 

"I am a veteran," Epperson said, noting that she served seven years in the Air Force.

She said she wanted the program to be better than what was currently offered in the community such as a few organizations hosting small events and veterans having a meeting for coffee and donuts.

Last year, the ceremony turned into an event that offered a luncheon, ceremony and give-a-way.

For this year, Epperson hoped to call upon UCA’s tradition of having a "great tailgate community-binding experience."

When looking for a way to help the community recognize the veterans, Epperson realized a tailgate party was perfect.

Because of campus budget cuts, Epperson said there was no budget for the project, however, local businesses and vendors are participating.

"The outpouring of support has been great," Epperson said.

Food, give-a-ways and information will be available at various booths from businesses, student organizations, veterans’ organizations and the ROTC. 

Additionally the ROTC will offer games and a rock wall.

Cheerleaders and members of the dance team will also participate in the party, Epperson said.

Jeff Scarbrough, one of the event organizers, said the event will give the community the opportunity to honor veterans and remember those who have fallen.

Scarbrough said community officials will honor veterans in a special way by signing a community covenant saying they will support veterans in the area. 

"No one has done this in the state of Arkansas," Scarbrough said.

Maj. Gen. Craig B. Wheldon of Florida will be the guest speaker and will talk about the community covenant.

Epperson said the covenant will show support to the veterans. 

The event is open to the community and will feature the band "The Bitter Harvest," comprised of active duty Marines.

A fly over will add to the afternoon’s festivities.

Prior to the tailgate party, a Veterans’ Information Fair will be held in the corridors of Estes Stadium. Epperson said veterans can find out information about coming to UCA and about veterans services offered by the Veterans Administration.

"It has come a long way to really getting everybody involved," Epperson said of the event as a whole. 

Epperson said it is special to see a older veteran’s face knowing that the celebration is for him or her.

"It wasn’t cool to come back as a veteran," Epperson said of past wars. "It is really cool. They get the celebration they didn’t get ot have then they returned."

If a group, organization or business is interested in having a booth at the event, call Epperson at 501-450-5153.