By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 21, 2018
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The battle is on in South Georgia as fans get ready for the Winnersville Classic.
The Lowndes Vikings are taking on the Valdosta Wildcats in the 50th annual cross town show down. No matter what side of the football field, fans were out bright and early for the game of the year.
Some Wildcats fans had tents up and food ready as early as 9:00 a.m. Friday morning. Tailgaters said celebrating what they believe is one of the biggest high school football rivalries in the nation, is a tradition they will never miss.
"This thing sells out on a Tuesday, there'll be 14,000-15,000 people in here tonight, standing room only," said Wildcats fan Monty Long. "You got cross families here, you got Wildcats married to Vikings, you got cousins and uncles and aunts and brothers that play for each school. It's just a big rivalry that comes about once a year, and you have to take advantage of that."
At Spirit Screen Printing, the big game means big sales. The Winnersville Classic brings in shoppers, flooding in from both districts. Store owner Randy Steedley said the week leading up to the game brings more sales than they can sometimes have in months.
A rivalry, though, that for many, is bigger than football.
"I think it means a lot to both sides, whether you be alumni or a current player," Steedley said."People want to win the game for bragging rights, for family bragging rights, you got families that are divided over the two teams. It's just a lot of fun."
The winner of the game taking home the coveted Winnersville Classic trophy, a five year tradition. In the week leading up to the game it stands at Spirit Screen Printing, until landing in the winning school until the next year.
Last year Lowndes took home the trophy, but that hasn't stopped Wildcats fans from thinking this year, it's staying at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.