Northwest Missouri State University families will gather for a weekend of entertainment, athletic events and fun as the university celebrates its annual Family Weekend September 22-24.

“Family Weekend gives students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff a unique way to engage and connect,” Amy Nally, Northwest’s assistant director of student involvement, said. “Since parents play an important part in their students’ success on campus, it is important for them to get to know Northwest and understand the student college experience. Family Weekend provides a unique opportunity for all to learn the history of Northwest, to view the new upgrades of facilities and build relationships with students and alumni.”

The weekend’s highlights include free evening entertainment, the annual alumni awards banquet and a Saturday afternoon football game. Activities surrounding the football game include the Bearcat Zone tailgate and the halftime introduction of Northwest’s Family of the Year.

Eight distinguished members of the Northwest family will be honored during the annual alumni awards banquet, sponsored by the Northwest Alumni Association. The event begins with a social at 6 pm, Friday, September 22 in the JW Jones Student Union Ballroom. The dinner begins at 6:45 pm, followed by the awards presentation at 8 pm.

This year’s honorees are Dr. David McDaniel, Dr. Matt Symonds, Sherri Reeves, Tim Sullivan, Rich and Bernie Mendenhall, Sam Henson and Leon Dixon, Jr. Reservations may be made at 660.562.1248.

Northwest’s Student Activities Council (SAC) is sponsoring two free nights of entertainment, beginning with magician Ben Seidman at 8 pm, Friday, September 22 in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. Seidman, known for his energy and playful personality, starred in “Magic Outlaws” on the Travel Channel and appeared on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” on the CW Network.

Families are invited to Encryption, a family friendly escape activity from 6:30 pm to midnight in downtown Maryville. “The escape experience of Maryville” tests players’ knowledge and inventive thinking through puzzles and riddles, challenging them to escape a room in under 60 minutes. Participants must register with SAC to reserve a spot at 660.562.1226.

The inaugural Family Weekend scavenger hunt will be at 10 am, Saturday, September 23, and begin at the Thomas Gaunt House. Participants will follow clues throughout the Northwest campus to win prizes.

Other weekend activities include Taste of Maryville, a tailgate featuring local restaurant vendors and their specialties, as well as a 5K run/walk/roll, and a Bearcat breakfast mixer.

Each year, Northwest recognizes a family who best represents the Bearcat family and demonstrates a strong commitment to Northwest. The Family of the Year is selected from submitted applications. The selected family will be recognized at halftime of the football game Saturday, September 23. In addition to being recognized on the field at Bearcat Stadium during halftime of Saturday’s football game, the family receives a $750 scholarship and other prizes. The deadline to submit an application is 5 pm, Friday, September 14. One application is allowed per student. The family must be present to accept the award.

Kickoff for the Bearcat football game against Missouri Southern State University is at 1:30 pm, Saturday at Bearcat Stadium. The Bearcat Zone, Northwest’s tailgate area prior to all home football games, gets underway at 11 am at the Raymond J. Courter College Park Pavilion. The Bearcat Zone features performances by Bobby Bearcat, the Bearcat Marching Band, Bearcat Steppers and the Bearcat Cheerleaders and other family-friendly activities. Fans may bring their own food or a tailgate meal is available for $10.