Paint the town red has become the traditional start of the home football season for Arkansas State.
The event has grown since it first started. At first there was little more to it than a contest to reward those decorating to support AState.
Arkansas State was coming off a 4-7 season and John Bobo’s contract as head coach was not renewed. AState had won a bidding war with SMU to hire Ohio State offensive coordinator Joe Hollis.
The Indians return to I-A football had been less than spectacular. 15-39-1 since the move for a winning percentage that rounded up to 0.282.
In addition to having a new coach, there was one game on the schedule that held promise of bringing a big crowd into Jonesboro, the UCA Bears. AState had held off Division II UCA the year before 17-7.
Attendance the year before had averaged 14,565, a nice bump from the 8,475 average of 1995. Much of the increase came from a large crowd for the UCA game.
The Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas State partnered to promote the game by declaring the week of the game “Paint the Town Red” weekend. Businesses were asked to support AState by painting windows and decorating to promote the game. Now it includes a number of events around Jonesboro and on the AState campus.
This week marks the 19th “Paint the Town Red”.
What has changed from 1997 is that the event now has a year round carryover. Many businesses maintain AState window displays the entire year.
AState head football coach Blake Anderson and prior head coach Bryan Harsin both touted how the carryover decorations during the year boost AState recruiting. AState assistant Trooper Taylor has talked about how impressed he was by the environment of Jonesboro from the fan interest to the decorated businesses.
Paint the town red has grown from a small grassroots promotion to try to build added interest in what would be the best attended game of the year into a city-wide annual kickoff event promoting AState football.