Hundreds of West Virginia University families are expected to descend on Morgantown for Fall Family Weekend Oct. 17-19.

The annual weekend provides an opportunity for parents to reconnect with their WVU students, learn about academics and experience campus life, said Sabrina Cave, executive director of the Mountaineer Parents Club .

Highlights include the Fall Family Weekend Welcome Reception, the Mountaineer Experience, mens and womens soccer games, an open basketball practice, 5K walk and WVUp All Night activities.

As families arrive in town Friday afternoon (Oct. 17), they are invited to stop by the Fall Family Weekend Welcome Reception in the Mountainlair Vandalia Lounge. Here they can meet other WVU families and University representatives. Parents will also receive commemorative leaf pins while supplies last.

Hatfields restaurant in theLair will be the backdrop forFamily Night in Italystarting at 6 p.m. for those families that purchased tickets. The menu includes chicken and pasta dishes, meatballs, Caesar salad and gelato and other desserts. Entertainment will be provided by contestants from Mountaineer Idol , WVU s version of the popular singing competitionAmerican Idol.

In addition, WVU parents and students can take in a womens soccer game at Dick Dlesk Stadium with a special coupon that gives them $1 admission. WVU students will be admitted for free with a Mountaineer Card. The match-up against Georgetown begins at 7 p.m.

In conjunction withAmerican Idol, FOX -46 and Coca-Cola, Mountaineer Idol features WVU students at 8:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair ballrooms. A special Mountaineer Idol give-back event will benefit WVU Childrens Hospital and Jessis Pals .

The mission of Jessis Pals is to provide a stuffed animal to every patient at Childrens Hospital. Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who chairs the campaign, will be a celebrity judge for Mountaineer Idol that night.

Finally, families are invited to participate in the nationally acclaimed WVUp All Night program from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. at theLair. The line-up includes bowling, billiards and other activities.

WVU families can also take advantage of activities at the Student Recreation Center on the Evansdale Campus. Families will be invited to explore and use the Rec Center throughout the weekend with free access and special activities such asDiscover Scubafrom 6-9 p.m. Friday. Visitors may also participate in any group exercise class.

Saturdays schedule includes numerous residence hall activities in which families and students are encouraged to meet with resident faculty leaders.

An event called Mountaineer Experience will take place from noon-3 p.m. at the Student Rec Center. Activities range from pick-up basketball games to Zumba. There will also be special appearances by the Mountaineer mascot, as well as the mens soccer coaches and players at 1 p.m. and womens soccer coaches and players at 1:45 p.m.

Additionally, parents can sign up to win a Dell notebook valued at more than $1,200, and the Mountaineer Parents Club will recognize the outstanding in-state (Randolph County) and out-of-state (Pittsburgh) clubs.

Several open houses are scheduled throughout the weekend, including events at the Center for Black Culture and Research , Center for Civic Engagement , Career Services Center and more.

On Sunday morning, families and students are encouraged to participate in the 5K Heart Walk sponsored by the WVU Student Government Association . The walk begins at 9 a.m. at Hazel Ruby McQuain Waterfront Park and follows the rail-trail past Mountaineer Heritage Park. All proceeds benefit the Student Memorial Scholarship. Each participant will receive a T-shirt and pedometer. The cost is $20 for parents and $5 for students. To sign up, go to http://simpleforms.scripts.wvu.edu/parents/SGAHeartWalk08/ .

WVU families can also tour the new Erickson Alumni Center from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Sunday. Following the tours, Ring Day will be held at 1 p.m. for WVU students who ordered the official WVU class ring.

For more information about Fall Family Weekend, visit http://fallfamilyweekend.wvu.edu/ .