Big Hoopla Family Festival returns to downtown Dayton this weekend

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

After a decade-long hiatus, the Big Hoopla celebration is back to energize Dayton families on and off the court.

The Oregon District Business Association and the Big Hoopla, a volunteer-based nonprofit that organizes local activities around the NCAA First Four and the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at the University of Dayton, are inviting families to Fifth Street in the Oregon District for a free Family Festival from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 13.

Big Hoopla is a chance for the entire family to get involved in the festivities surrounding the tip-off of the NCAA basketball tournament and its return to the University of Dayton Area on March 15 and 16. Festivities include live performances on multiple stages in the district, food trucks, mascot meet-and-greets, inflatables, interactive displays and much more.

Attending the festival with the whole family doesn’t mean missing out on the on-court action, as there will be plenty of television screens on display for NCAA Selection Sunday.

“(In 2020) it was canceled, like three days before when the state was shut down (due to the COVID-19 pandemic),” said Sandy Gudorf, Downtown Dayton Partnership president. “So everybody is really excited. Having the First Four games in Dayton, it energizes the community and it puts the focus on Dayton, Ohio for those few days.”

The Family Festival in the Oregon District is one of three main events organized by Big Hoopla. Also planned for Sunday are the 2022 Big Hoopla Four Miler and STEM Challenge events.

Open to students in grades K through eight, the 2022 Big Hoopla STEM Challenge links the “fun of basketball and the unique education opportunities in the STEM environment to the NCAA men’s basketball First Four games,” according to Big Hoopla organizers. The free event, taking place at the Dayton Convention Center at 22 E. 5th St. from noon to 4:30 p.m., features demonstrations, educational activities, a basketball “Hot Shot” contest with prizes and more.

People can also get in on the fun by signing-up for the 2022 Big Hoopla 4-Miler, starting at 9 a.m. — registration starts at 8 a.m. — at Welcome Stadium, located at 1601 S Edwin C Moses Blvd. next to the UD Arena. All participants receive a long sleeve tech tee, a custom finisher medal, free race photos, post race food, a DJ and more.

Registration costs $40 per adult, and First Four games tickets will be awarded to age group winners.

To help families attend the festivities, the RTA will run on Sunday between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and free parking is available at the Reibold Garage, located at 25W W 5th St., and at the Oregon District Garage, located at 116 E 5th St.

“The Oregon District is just so very excited to welcome everybody back into the district,” Gudorf said. “It’s all about celebrating and bringing our community together. There’s all kinds of entertainment, lots of TVs to watch basketball, we’ve got two stages with some great entertainment — it’s just going to be a great day.”

Family Tip-Off Tent and street includes include:

  • Boonshoft Museum of Discovery – Coloring, LEGO, and more.
  • Dayton Metro Library book giveaway and meet and greet with Cosmo the mascot
  • Connect E-Sports Mario Kart
  • k12 Gallery & TEJAS K-12 Painting Activity
  • Pop-A-Shot & Basketball Games
  • Hula Hoop Workshop
  • Mascot Meet & Greet
  • Life-size Games
  • Sports Inflatables
  • Live Music
  • Face Painting
  • Balloon Making
  • Jugglers
  • Stilt Walkers

Center Court Stage Live performances schedule:

  • 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.— Curious Animals
  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.— The Menus

“And One” Stage Live performances schedule:

  • 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.— Clark Manson
  • 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. — Todd the Fox

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit

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