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“B” is for Big Thursday

“B” is for Big Thursday. For more than six decades the story of the lively football competition between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers was the story of “Big Thursday,” the culmination of State Fair week. The rivalry started on Thursday, November 12, 1896, at the fairgrounds in Columbia. By the 1910s it had become a “combination picnic, fashion parade, political rally and drinking bout.” Big Thursday’s popularity exploded after World War II. Each school developed Big Thursday traditions, including burning the Tiger at USC the night before the game and the burial of the Gamecock at Clemson on the Tuesday before students traveled to Columbia. By the late 1950s Clemson was pushing for an end-of-season game played on an alternating home schedule. Both schools agreed and 1959 was the last Big Thursday game.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.