It’s almost that time. With Labor Day weekend approaching, summer is ending and COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON is about to begin.
With college football comes tailgating.
I have been to many great tailgates across the country, and as a whole the SEC does tailgating the best. Tailgating is all about great food, passionate fans, and time honored traditions. Whether you are a Tiger (LSU or Auburn), Gator, Gamecock, or Wildcat, all SEC fans do game day tailgating in their own unique way.
To celebrate the new football tailgating season, I wanted to share with you my 5 favorite things about tailgating in the SEC.
The Grove at Ole Miss
This 10 acre green space looks like this on Friday afternoon:
Overnight, it is transformed into one of the largest parties you have ever been to. Girls in sundresses, guys in suits, and cocktails in hands, game day at The Grove in Oxford is an experience unlike any other.
Like Cinderella, at midnight the tailgate disappears, but will return again for the next home game.
Auburn’s Tiger Walk
It is tradition for SEC fans to cheer on their players as they walk into the stadium. About 2 and a half hours prior to kick off, fans will line up and wait for their team to arrive. Every school has their own form of this player procession, but the size and scope of Auburn’s is one you just have to see.
I have been to many walks, but the Tiger Walk’s atmosphere is like non other.
The Vol Navy
Only in the SEC would you find a group of tailgaters that have formed a navy. On Saturdays in the fall, this tailgating navy of several hundred boats gathers on the Tennessee river outside Neyland Stadium.
You will find boats of all size tied to one another. The larger ships stay tied up for the entire 3 months of the football season. With the largest boatgating scene in the country, the VOL Navy in Knoxville is something you have to see.
The “World’s Largest Cocktail Party”
This contest between SEC East rivals Florida and Georgia takes place during the last week of October each season in Jacksonville, FL. The tailgating that happens when these two teams travel to a neutral site is legendary.
Every possible place you can park a car has a tailgate at it (this includes under overpasses and medians of the highway) After a visit for yourself, you will understand why it has been given the nickname “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”
The Food of LSU
There is tailgating food and then there is LSU’s tailgating food. The meals that are cooked up under the purple and gold tents outside Tiger Stadium on Saturdays are what every tailgate should aspire to be like. Crab, pork, alligator, frog, chicken, beef, shrimp, there is nothing that LSU fans won’t put their cajun spin on.
Even Alabama, Ole Miss, and Auburn fans would agree that the food found on gameday in Baton Rouge is special. Only in Baton Rouge, does a 2:30 kickoff require a 4:15am arrival.
Chances are you have experienced one or several of these great SEC traditions. If you haven’t, I suggest you hit the road this season and watch your school when they travel to away games. With the combination of great SEC football and passionate fans, you can’t go wrong spending a Saturday at an SEC campus.
As I continue my travels from tailgate to tailgate this fall, I look forward to seeing…
UGA in Atlanta on 9/3
Auburn at Clemson on 9/17
LSU at West Virginia on 9/24
Alabama at Florida on 10/1
Mississippi St at Kentucky on 10/29
and ending my season at South Carolina on 11/26
I look forward to seeing what other SEC traditions are out there. I don’t know who will win the game, all I know is that when tailgating in the SEC, there are no losers.
Taylor Mathis is a photographer and passionate football fan. Visit his blog, Taylor Tailgates, to see more of his tailgating photos and information as well as follow his travels this coming football season.