Baker, Baldwin City community unite for County-Line Clash
There will be no town-gown conflict Saturday in Baldwin City as Baker and Ottawa universities renew their football rivalry.
Baker and the community will unite be for a day of activities billed as the County-Line Clash, which will conclude with the football game between the NAIA’s 16th-ranked Baker Wildcats and the No. 18 Ottawa Braves at 6 p.m. at Baker’s Liston Stadium.
Pre-game activities will be centered downtown, where the 700 block of High Street will be blocked off from traffic. The Lotatorium between the Post Office and Lumberyard Arts Center will be home to most events sponsored by the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, while a car show will line the parking spaces of the street.
The city, BCRC and Baker will sponsor a free community barbeque from 1 to 2 p.m. on the street in front of the new El Jacal restaurant, with food prepared by the restaurant’s owners.
BCRC director Steve Friend said games such as human hamster-ball races, laser tag and video games will be offered between 1 p.m and 5 p.m.. A deejay will provide musical accompaniment to the day’s activities.
Entertainment for younger children will include face painting and games supervised by Baker students, Friend said.
“It should be a fun event,” he said. “I think the games should attract all ages. I’m hoping college kids, high school and junior high kids get involved with the games.”
Volunteers with the Baldwin City Fire Department also will be on hand with two fire trucks, Fire Chief Allen Craig said. Those attending the event will be able to operate a fire hose at the corner of Seventh and High streets.
For the past two years, Baker and Ottawa have had student-body competitions during rivalry week to collect food to be donated to food pantries in Baldwin City and Ottawa. Ottawa has won the competition each of the past two years.
In an effort to reverse that trend, Baker is borrowing a tactic from its rival, according to Laura Jacob, Baker graduate assistant for student life.
“Ottawa has won because they engage the entire city of Ottawa, not just the campus,” she said. “I have reached out to the local schools in Baldwin, and looked for ways to engage the community as a whole. It’s working great. Our numbers are way up from last year.”
Food collection tubs have been placed on campus, Baldwin Junior and Senior high schools and the BCRC office at 711 High St., Jacob said. There also will be collection tubs downtown Saturday.
Jacob said she is hopeful community involvement would give Baker the edge, but that no matter the outcome the event will benefit the Baldwin City Community Food Pantry. The effort has strengthened ties between the food pantry and Baker, local schools and the community, she said.
“I just love that we are starting to cooperate this early in the year and hopefully we can partner with the schools and the community more as the year goes on,” Jacob said.