After "a bump in 2017," Alpha Psi Rodeo is returning with a familiar feel for the 57th event in 2018.
Rodeo is returning to its "BYOB" status, allowing students 21 and older to bring in coolers filled with their choice alcoholic drinks. Entertainment will include Cole Swindell and Riley Green. Tickets will go on sale Monday at 8 a.m. for the event on April 21.
Along with the drinking, students will be welcomed to tailgate starting at 8 a.m. when the gates open for the event, which drew more than 14,000 attendees in 2016.
Old Row, a popular fraternity-oriented Instagram and Twitter account, will be partnering with the Alpha Psi Alumni Association to put on the event this year.
"Old Row is an incredible brand that identifies with this audience," said Andrew Lovelady, a
Last year, after the changes were announced, Old Row tweeted the Alpha Psi and said, "See what happens when you put a little pressure on people.”
At the time of this article, the Old Row Auburn account had not posted about Rodeo 2018, an event that typically features amateur rodeo events and country music performances.
"Rodeo has become the best party in the SEC and we are adding incredible new elements such as the 'Old Row Tailgate Party' and expanding the Rodeo piece for attendees to have run at Rodeo all day," Lovelady said.
The previous year brought changes to Rodeo — changes that sparked unfavorable responses on Twitter and other forms of social media. Coolers and tailgating were not allowed at last year's rodeo, which was renamed "Round-Up" after Auburn's Theta chapter of the Alpha Psi Alumni Association took over management of the event.
The hashtag #notmyrodeo picked up steam and out of 200 students polled, 90 percent said they wouldn't attend last year's event.
"We recognized that we needed help to produce an event of this size," Lovelady said. "We partnered with a company that understands this market and can help with some of the organizational pieces of this puzzle."
The Alpha Psi Rodeo Facebook page released a video outlining this year's changes. Those arriving must be inside the vehicle, rather than in the back of a truck bed before entering. A shuttle service will be offered to and from campus.
IDs will be checked at the gates when entering the venue.
"We'll be checking IDs at the front gate, so if you have alcohol, make sure you have a 21-year-old in the car with you," said Caroline from Alpha Psi Rodeo.
Glass won't be permitted, and several new gates will be opened to allow attendees to enter more quickly.
In 2016, when the Eli Young Band headlined the April 2 event and Alpha Psi's BYOB policy was still in place, approximately 47 people were arrested, similar to 2015's total. The Lee County Sheriff's Office said 50 charges were filed.
The sheriff's office, the Auburn Police Division, the Opelika Police Department, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Alabama Beverage Control Agency typically provide security for the event.
During that year's event, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said people were drinking "copious quantities" of alcohol and there were "elements of unsafe activities," leading to six individuals being taken to the hospital.
One sexual assault was also reported at the event.
The 47 arrests were a small portion of the 14,000 people attended the event. In 2016, organizers added several safety changes to the event. Gates didn't open until 11 a.m. and more lighting was added.
Proceeds from the event, amounting to over $750,000 over the years, have been donated to the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Storybook Farms and the Lee County Special Olympics.
"Rodeo has experienced incredible success over our 50+ year tradition, especially the incredible donations we have been able to make back to Auburn charities," Lovelady said. "We are just excited to go back to what we know and do well which is producing an incredible rodeo right here in Auburn."