The Southern Conference Basketball Tournament, featuring men’s and women’s teams from 10 universities in six states, gets started in Asheville on Thursday. There are going to a couple extra thousand people in town for the games. There’s a ton of basketball to take in, as well as a host of community events aimed at getting locals involved. Here’s a quick run-down:
All tournament long
Hoops Against Hunger
U.S. Cellular Center and host hotels With childhood hunger statistics reporting that one out of five children does not have enough food at home, many times the meals hungry children receive at school are the only food they will have to eat. Anyone bringing an approved food item will receive $5 off a single-session ticket for any session. hoopsagainsthunger.net
Mission Health and Wellness Day
U.S. Cellular Center
The day will start with Southern Conference mascots providing smiles and laughter to children at the Mission Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital in Western North Carolina. Mission Children’s Hospital has 130 beds, averages 3,000 patient admissions to its pediatric inpatient units, 4,500 outpatient pediatric surgeries and nearly 14,000 pediatric emergency department visits annually. At the U.S. Cellular Center, Friday will be Cancer Awareness Day. Information about cancer prevention, screening and treatment will be available to all attendees. The day will also feature special tributes to cancer survivors.
Downtown Dribble & KidsFest
9-11:30 a.m., Pack Square in downtown
Asheville will be populated with games and interactives for kids, as well as cheerleaders, bands and mascots. KidsFest will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 11 a.m., with the start of the Downtown Dribble. Each kid participating in the Downtown Dribble will receive a free T-shirt and basketball and participate in a dribble parade from Pack Square to the front door of the U.S. Cellular Center. Participants in Downtown Dribble will also receive free admission to the men’s quarterfinal session at noon.
SoCon Teddy Bear Toss
Noon, U.S. Cellular Center
Make a small donation to Mission Children’s Hospital and you will receive a stuffed animal to throw on the court during the 2017 SoCon Teddy Bear Toss. Bears thrown will be donated to Mission Children’s Hospital and provided to kids visiting the hospital for treatments. 1,500 bears are available and ready to put a smile on the face of a child.
Celebrate Asheville Day and Ingles JAMFEST
2:30-4:45 p.m., U.S. Cellular Center
Celebrate Asheville is the Southern Conference’s way of showing its appreciation for the remarkable community that hosts its Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. The day will showcase the accolades and diversity of Asheville and will culminate with Ingles JAMFEST, an outdoor tailgate party from 2:30 – 4:45 outside the U.S. Cellular Center. Ingles JAMFEST will feature local food and beverage vendors and musical performances by Lyric and Joe Lasher Jr. Ingles JAMFEST will also benefit Eblen Charities and its Hoops Against Hunger project.
Hometown Heroes Day, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
6-7 p.m., U.S. Cellular Center
The final day of competition at SoCon 2017 will honor the people and organizations that help enrich and keep people safe every day. Members of the military, fire, police, emergency services, charitable organizations, government and civil service will be recognized and all in those fields will be afforded an opportunity to witness the men’s championship game at 7 p.m.