MISSOULA — In less than 24 hours, these sidewalks will be crowded with people from all over making their way back to Missoula. Some will line up for the parade, some will head to campus to tailgate, and some will be going grabbing a bite to eat.
University of Montana's homecoming weekend is one of the busiest times of year for Missoula, so how do local businesses keep up with the high demand?
Manager of The M Store Joni Walker estimates 300 people come through the shop on game days.
“We love Homecoming weekend because we get to meet all kinds of people from all over the country coming back, who love the University of Montana," Walker said. "They walk into the store and they’re just in awe of all the maroon and silver.”
To keep up with the demand, Walker brings in extra staff that work long days leading to what she calls, "Christmas in the Fall."
Walker is also an alumna from UM. She received her MBA in 2005.
“When I first moved here, a friend of mine was a Griz fan, and she took me to a game, and it was Dave Dickenson’s first game," Walker said. "And I became a fan and that was it. Love, love Griz football.”
But Griz gear isn’t the only attraction to downtown. Restaurants, breweries, and bars get extra customers this weekend, too. Waitress Kelli McName says she’s partially looking forward to the rush.
“I’m guessing its going to be pretty busy, which is always a good thing, but then you can’t be at the game, which stinks a lot," McName said. "But I think it’ll be pretty busy, two Saturdays ago it was pretty bananas.”
Compared to a normal game day,Tamarack Brewing Company estimates their sales will increase about 20 percent from Thursday through Monday.
McName recently graduated from the University, and she says she misses walking in the parade with her sorority sisters.
McName added, “It’s still the same, you tailgate, and get to eat hot dogs and hamburgers, its a different kind of fun now.”
The fun kicks off with the traditional homecoming yell tonight at 8. And tune in to KPAX on air and online for all things Homecoming.