Keeping the Tradition

Danny Hernandez— 

Associate Producer

The L.V. Risinger Memorial bonfire began in the 1920s and has been a part of Tarleton State University homecoming tradition ever since. For years, the Plowboys have been responsible for constructing and protecting this Tarleton tradition.  

But, with the Plowboys’ absence this year, many students were left wondering if the bonfire would be gone along with the spirit organization. 

Student Involvement, Spirit and Traditions and SGA (Student Government Association) stepped in to fill the shoes of the Plowboys by building the bonfire. In the beginning of September, Student Involvement released a sign-up link to the Tarleton student body, allowing students to volunteer to aid in the construction of the bonfire. 

Volunteers that help build the bonfire go through risk management training as a requirement. Photo by Rebecca Hernandez

Approximately 340 students have volunteered their time to help build the bonfire. Residential Coordinator and Spirts and Traditions member, Paul Caldwell, talked about the process volunteers had to undergo. 

“We required our volunteers to attend one risk management course that discussed safety and hazards on site. We also talked about how the bonfire will be built and who would work on what level of construction.”  

The construction of the bonfire will be entirely by hand.  

“We’re going to follow the same strategy and design used in the past. An 18-wheeler will bring a trailer full of pallets every day, [and] we’ll have a forklift driver unloading pallets. Other than that, the whole bonfire will be built by hand. No power tools will be used,” Caldwell said. 

The bonfire will sit at 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide, and volunteers will be broken up into four levels of labor. The first level is called the “hospitality level.” Students in that level would hand pallets to volunteers on levels 2-4 who would place pallets in place. Hard hats and gloves will be provided for volunteers working in levels 2-4. The work site will be on the Tarleton Farm located off U.S. Highway 281.  

Caldwell says Student Involvement will not be taking any late volunteers admissions or random volunteers showing up to the site, but there is still a way to help those student volunteers by bringing food and water.  

Construction of the bonfire started on Sept. 25, and will take a little less than a month.  

Caldwell says, “Our goal is to finish that (construction of the bonfire) Tuesday, October 23 before the (lighting of) the bonfire (on Friday). That would give SGA a couple days to set up the wiring, staging, and presentation aspects of the bonfire.” 

For more information on what food to bring, as well as drop off information, contact Paul Caldwell at or call the office of Student Involvement at (254)-968-9490. 

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