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  • Writer's pictureKelly Cave

Tailgate Traditions

Updated: May 31, 2022

Tailgating is back in full force. The details may vary from school to school, but tradition and loyalty reign supreme. Family and friends coordinate apparel, menus, and entertainment to ensure those age-old traditions get the attention they rightly deserve. Whether your tailgate consists of close family and friends or it spans several tents, rich traditions are evident across the country.

Here are some of my favorites:

Ole Miss-The Grove

Walking around on college gameday in any college town you will see a tent city displaying the home team. No one does that better than Ole Miss. The Grove is a 10-acre park in the center of campus and on game day it turns into a tent city of Rebel fans. It’s like church visitation on a Sunday afternoon. Rebel fans, dressed in the Sunday best, travel from tent to tent enjoying southern hospitality.

The University of Tennessee

Every college game day has cars, tents, and great food, but only in Knoxville do you have the Vol Navy. It has been said that every college football fan needs to witness the hundreds of boats that travel the Tennessee River to dock outside the stadium. While some it is solely transportation, others dock and set up their tailgate and watch the game from the river. Tennessee is easily one of the most recognizable stadiums in the country with its orange and white checkerboard end zones.

Check out the Vol Navy Boaters' Association on Facebook!

The University of South Carolina

The Gamecocks have one of the most unique game-day experiences with the Cockaboose Railroad. Why tailgate when you can “railgate”. 22 train cars line outside the stadium, each specifically decorated by the owners. The cars come furnished and completely stocked, perfect for game-day celebrating. Rarely do they come on the market, but when one does be ready to pay out the caboose for it.

Florida State University

The Seminoles start on Friday night with “Downtown Get Down”. Fans start the party with live bands, food, and drinks. The party ends with a huge pep rally. Once the pep rally is over fans even leave to secure their spot at Doak Stadium. Tailgating starts before the sun comes up on game-day. Some fans get to participate in the beating of the Spirit Drum. 24 hours prior to kickoff of the biggest game of the year someone beats on the drum continuously, Fans stand in line for a chance to be a part of this tradition.

The University of Colorado

I love live mascots and one of the best is Ralphie the buffalo. She makes 2 horseshoe runs around Folsom Field to start the game and the second half. It takes 5 people, known as Ralphie’s Handlers” to spirit to make the run possible. Handlers are responsible for restraining her. Otherwise, she can get up to 25 mph. The tradition started in 1966 and Colorado is on Ralphie #6.

The University of Texas

In Texas, things are just bigger and that is no more evident than tailgating at UT. Bighorns on cars, enormous smokers, and big-screen TVs are commonplace in Austin. Fans love to see Bevo, a Texas Longhorn Steer with burnt orange and white coloring, and the lighting of the UT tower after a victory. My personal favorite is hearing Matthew McConaughy’s voice riding into the game in his Texas-sized Ford T-bird with longhorns on the hood. In that sexy voice of his “alright, alright, alright”

Georgia vs Florida is one of the best college football rivalry games every year. They meet in Jacksonville where “the biggest cocktail party” in the country unfolds.

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