CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University freshman Alex Watz’s family filled a table Friday night at the Family Weekend Barbecue dinner on campus.

Her parents, younger sisters, grandparents and new friend joined her for a dinner to kick off the campuswide family visit.

Her parents, Jason and Angela Bauer were joined by daughters Marissa, 6, and Madelyn, 4, and grandparents Byron and Pat Baker for a weekend of EIU football and family-friendly activities on campus. The family made the five-hour trip from Lena, but Watz’ grandparents said the trek was worth it.

“This is our first time visiting campus or even being in town so we’re enjoying this,” Mr. Baker said.

Mr. Bauer said the family planned to take advantage of the kid-friendly events including the bingo event, a sand art activity and of course, the campus meals.

The weekend’s lineup of events includes a concert by rock band Cheap Trick tonight, several meals, a wine tasting and the seventh annual EIU “Run for a Reason: Run Red.”

Before the kickoff barbecue began, sophomore physics major Jacob Plunkett visited with his parents, Michelle and Kenneth Plunkett, on a bench south of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. The Plunketts were in town for their second Family Weekend experience, and while they aren’t attending today’s football game against Eastern Kentucky University they have a full line up of activities planned.

“We came on Saturday last year, but we decided to come Friday for extra time,” Mrs. Plunkett said. Mr. Plunkett added that they planned to attend most of the campus dinners and Bingo as well.

Garrat McCullough, a freshman business management major, escorted his mother Tabitha McCullough and grandmother Georgia Frey through the Library Quad early Friday evening for the barbecue dinner.

“We have a quite a few things planned,” Tabitha McCullough said as they checked over the weekend’s schedule.

Transfer student Caitlin Bohling, a junior management major, sat in the University Ballroom at the student union with her parents as they discussed how her classes were going for her first semester on campus. Her mother Gail Bohling said since their daughter lives in Stevenson Hall on campus they opted to stay in a hotel for the weekend, however by the time they called to book a room the local hotels were full.

“We’re staying in Casey, and it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s nice,” Mrs. Bohling said.

Her father George Bohling said the family also plans to attend the football game, and maybe see the University Board sponsored movie “Monsters University.”

The Bohlings drove just more than 200 miles to campus from Edison Park, on the northwest side of Chicago, for the weekend.

While the Bohlings traveled to Casey for a hotel, the Nomellini family found a spare room in Arcola. Scott Nomellini, a freshman management major, attended the family barbecue with his parents Pam and Bob. After Friday’s dinner they planned to explore the town and attend Saturday’s game.

He said most of his floormates’ families were scheduled to arrive this morning. Though he’s been in classes for more than a month he noted that he didn’t need to tidy up his dorm room for his parents’ arrival.

“It’s almost always clean,” he said sarcastically with a grin at his mother.

“Now how true can that be?” his father asked.

Contact Zyskowski at or 217-238-6869.

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