Fall is here, and it’s time to break out some beverages and gather around an open flame in anticipation of the football game.
Every weekend, groups of fans gather in stadium parking lots to hang out with good company and enjoy awesome food before the game begins. Having a party at the back end of your vehicle, in a designated spot in a parking lot or on a field, really takes some of the anxiety out of throwing a party. Just imagine it. No cleaning your home in preparation, and when stuff falls to the ground, there’s no need to worry about cleaning it up. With the exception of trash, drinks that spill or crumbs that fall are no problem. Of course, one main necessity at any tailgate is plenty of trash bags. I learned that trash bags are picked up inside and around most stadiums by vendor people who are hired to do so. On top of that, there are always people going around and collecting returnables for the deposit.
Currently, I tailgate with a group of people for MSU home games. Our group typically plans our tailgate food around the start time of each home game. Early game times mean at least having some type of breakfast foods on hand. The biggest hits are the breakfast burritos and hash browns. Fresh fruit and bagels always go over big. You can never go wrong with fresh fruit, as the college kids complain that they don’t always get good fruit. At Nino’s, we have the perfect fruit trays that feature snap-on lids for great travel. And they don’t take up a lot of space! You can even pick them up at the last minute. There’s no need to order ahead of time!
Standard fandemonium includes some fan arriving early to secure the spot with hot coffee in hand and a bagel to tide him or her over until the grills and griddles get going. Tailgating is a lifestyle for so many. Only in the South is a game day more celebrated than any other type of event, even weddings. As the old saying goes, “In the south, football is religion and every Saturday is a holy day.” I recently came across the 10 Commandments of Southern Football Tailgating:
1. Thou shalt wear team colors.
2. Thou shalt know and sing your team’s fight song from beginning to end.
3. Thou shalt keep your language clean (unless, of course, the quarterback fumbles on fourth and goal).
4. Thou shalt support the coach, even when his calls are questionable.
5. Thou shalt be respectful to visiting teams. Remember, southern ladies and gentlemen never boo.
6. Thou shalt set up a tailgate no fewer than three hours before kickoff (six if it is a night game). Table linens and matching huggers are encouraged but not required.
7. Thou shalt theme your tailgate food around the visiting rival. Gator bites, anyone?
8. Thou shalt stay through the fourth quarter–rain or shine. That’s what ponchos are for, y’all!
9. Thou shalt respect the solemnity of game day by planning weddings, births, and other life events around the football schedule.
10. Thou shalt not covet other teams’ bowl games, national championships or Heisman trophy wins. There’s always next year.
So whether you are new to tailgating or a seasoned veteran, there are several things to pack to make your tailgate successful:
- A table of some sort to place your food items on. Once you decide on and pack your food, decide whether you need a grill or griddle.
- Chairs, blankets or beach towels to hang out on, as standing the whole time might not prove relaxing.
- Rain or shine, pack a tent or cover of some sort as protection from the elements. Don’t forget sunscreen or even bug repellent if the game is later in the evening.
- One cannot stand by the food table all day, so grab a Frisbee, football, ladder golf or other backyard games to occupy time.
- If you’re not lucky enough to score tickets to the game, you’ll want a radio for music or listening to the game. You might even want a TV and dish if you decide to splurge for the season.
- Trash bags, serving utensils, silverware, plates, cups, serving platters, chafing dishes and crock pots are all necessities.
- Do not forget to hydrate. Pack cocktails, soda and plenty of water for the day.
These are the times when memories are made, and tailgates last all day! Go Green!