The exterior of the National College Football Hall of Fame in Downtown Atlanta. (Photo provided by the National College Football Hall of Fame.)

The College Football Hall of Fame is kicking off football season with a treat — free admission. On Saturday Aug. 26 the venue will be open to all, free of charge, for Football Fest & Free Day to celebrate the new football season.

Kimberly Beaudin, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, is excited to show people what they have to offer. She says the decision was motivated by wanting to make the site accessible to the community, especially since college football has such a big part of the culture in Georgia and across the South.

“We’re one of one, and represent every college football institution across the country… but our zip code is still [Atlanta]. And we want to celebrate Atlanta as the capital of college football, so this Football Fest & Free Day is a way to do that,” Beaudin said.

The free admission is covered by their partners Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A, Beaudin said. 

Part of what makes the hall so special is that there are none others like it, Beaudin said. This is what makes it stand out from all the other attractions in Atlanta and in the hall’s vicinity.

“There’s only one College Football Hall of Fame, and it’s such a unique fan experience,” Beaudin said. “In addition to being hallowed ground where we celebrate the greatest of the great, [the hall] is also an homage to everything that makes college football unique. That lifestyle — from tailgating and bands and cheerleaders and mascots — we get to celebrate all of that.”

The venue has something to offer everyone, Beaudin said — even those who aren’t college football fans. She pointed towards the special exhibit currently on display called “The Art of College Football” as an example of that.

“We were gifted four paintings that were commissioned in 1969 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of college football,” said Beaudin, noting the paintings are over seven feet wide. “They depict four moments in the history of the game — the first game, Princeton versus Rutgers in 1869; Newt Rockne in Notre Dame’s locker room; the forward pass — Howell to Hudson — which was Alabama and Tennessee. And lastly, the one that represents the modern game — “O.J. Runs to Daylight” is the name of that one,” said Beaudin, laughing and noting that these were commissioned in 1969 before O.J. Simpson’s infamous trail.

Marietta Street will be closed off for Football Fest & Free Day; the hall will also feature inflatables for kids and skills challenges to round out the experience.

Even if you can’t make the free day, the College Football Hall of Fame hosts Game Day Tailgate every Saturday in the fall, and has massive monitors to make sure you don’t miss a second of your favorite team.

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