A love of the game may be what gets everyone to the stadium. But the foods, traditions, and festivities of a tailgate party can bring everyone together to truly celebrate!
From college football to the women’s football league, sports are a much-loved tradition in the United States. While everyone likes cheering on their team, there’s more to sports culture than just watching the game. There may not be a known story on how the tailgate party came to be. But, that doesn’t stop these celebratory sporting events from being one of the best parts of the game!
It might sound strange, but a tailgate party does, in fact, take place around the bumper of a vehicle! While no one is sure exactly when this American tradition began, there are a few ideas out there. It could have started at Ivy League Schools where the parking lots were small so people showed up early. Or it could have started during a time when families walked to games after church so the hours between church and sports were for socializing. Whatever the case, these parties have become a much-loved tradition all over the country. They occur at high school, college, and peewee games, but it’s primarily NFL and college football. They take place in stadium parking lots all over where people share food and drinks from their vehicles. With grilled food and fun games, there’s plenty to do even five hours before kickoff!
When it comes to tailgate party ideas, there really are no rules! Given the weather patterns, locations, and teams involved, it’s more a case of anything goes. Some places swear by dressing to the nines, even if that means pearls and high heels. In other places, they like to keep it pretty casual with jeans and t-shirts. When it’s warm outside, it’s important to be ready for it with clothing you’ll be comfortable in. But, when winter comes along, sweaters, pants, and parkas are the way to keep the party going. So, while there are no strict rules to follow, it’s expected you’ll to wear your team’s color. If you really want to be a super fan, you may even want to put on some face paint!
It’s impolite to show up to a party without something to give, and a tailgating is no different. Bringing your own food and drink is necessary, but you’ll want enough to share with other NFL fans or sports parents. Fortunately, there’s plenty of tailgate party food everyone will love! Undoubtedly, someone will bring a grill so hamburgers, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, and BBQ chicken wings are popular. Coleslaw and potato salad also make for ideal side dishes. But there are foods for every taste- from southern pimento cheese and pulled pork, to more Tex-Mex nachos and guacamole. If you're not up for bringing food, you might want to bring tailgate party decorations to make your zone known!
With so many tailgate parties around the country, it’s no surprise that there are many different traditions. For sure, there will be fun tailgate party games like corn hole, flip cup, ladder ball, and pong. But, there are many other local traditions, too. At the University of South Carolina, the Cockaboose Railroad provides the party! Located close to the stadium, 22 railroad cars featuring TVs and kitchens can be rented out to tailgate.
Other schools opt for tailgate alternatives, like the University of Tennessee and the University of Washington. Instead of the standard tailgate, fans and friends can try boatgating given their dockside location. But, if you’re looking for the biggest tailgate party around, look no further than Jacksonville! The University of Florida throws the largest party of all. In fact, it’s so impressive that it’s been called "The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"!
A love of NCAA football or WFA may connect sports fans for life, but it’s the party where they cut loose! Do you have any fun tailgate party ideas? Let us know about your favorite foods and traditions in our comments! Wherever the next big game is, there’s sure to be fun, food, and traditions to enjoy!