College Football Tailgating: Must-Haves for a Great Tailgate

So, you’ve got your tickets to the game, and you and your buddies decide you are going to tailgate before kickoff.

Maybe it’s your first time to celebrate within sight of the sacred stadium, perhaps you haven’t had the chance of doing it in years or possibly you are an expert who is there at every golden opportunity.

Regardless, this is an event worth carefully planning for because even if you tailgate at every college football home game, at the very most, you will only get eight precious shots at getting it right.

Here's a checklist for the college football tailgater, who, regardless of their experience level, is serious about celebrating the 13 greatest days of the year...every college football Saturday.

Folding Chairs
The folding chair is a bare minimum for the tailgater; if nothing else you’ve got to have a place to sit down behind your vehicle in order to participate in the festivities.

The chair needs to fold down, should come equipped with a cup holder, and you should be as comfortable as if you’re flying first class.

The chairs look even better when and if they are obnoxiously emblazoned with your team’s colors and logos, especially if you are venturing into enemy territory.

Folding Tables
Another item that lays the foundation of a good tailgate is at least one high quality folding table to hold the cornucopia of pre-game bounty.

If you are going to do it right, you may need a couple of tables of varying sizes, but somehow they must all fit into either you or your buddy’s vehicle.

To add some spirit to your quest for functionality, many on- and off-line retailers offer tables especially made for football tailgating and decorated thusly.

The next step up in furnishing your tailgate setup is the portable, pop-up canopy which not only provides shade and protection from unsavory weather conditions; it makes you look even cooler and more extravagant.

Again, up the ante if you can get a canopy with your school colors and logo included.

Spirit Wear
This is one of the times, as a sports enthusiast, that it really is important to consider “what to wear.”

Indeed, home or away, you need to be completely clad in your team’s colors complete with whatever over-the-top variations you can possibly manage.

Beads, spirit hair, construction hats, jerseys, tights, whatever it’s your job.

Gird your loins with pride and arm yourself with spirit; go forth fully clad bold and proud fan...this is your day!

I know no more stirring sight than that of the flags of the home team waving in the gentle breeze of a fall Saturday afternoon.

More majestic and meaningful than tall sails floating peaceful in the bay or the eagle in flight over a purple mountain; the college football flag is hung with passion and serves as a soulful signal, calling a mighty fanbase to arms.

One of the best options to make this happen is the flag pole pictured. It is 11-feet tall and can be either attached to a 2” hitch receiver, or it can be secured under the tire of the car (the “drive over” option).

Freedom Grill
The grill is the centerpiece of the serious tailgate, and though there is a wide array of fine products offered for the cooking of meats, the Freedom Grill offers several benefits that, in unison, are hard to match.

First, this thing doesn’t go in your car (though it could), it hooks to any 2” trailer hitch receiver and features a steel arm that swings out when you grill (keeping the fire away from your vehicle) and swings back in and locks securely in place when you go down the road.

Secondly, this is no little flimsy grill; it is solid as a rock and has a 16,000 BTU burner and 352 square inches of cooking space.  It is fired by the green propane canisters you use for camping which are inexpensive and readily available.

Third and key to the tailgate is you don’t have to wait for this thing to cool down before you put it your car before or after the game, just keep cooking until the last second and lock it back in place and you are golden.

The price tag is high. At minimum you’re looking at $250, but it’s built to last, and you can use it for other less important stuff like family gatherings and camping.

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for and this is the Cadillac of tailgating grills with a “reasonable” price tag.

Portable Power
Before you plan your actual tailgate menu you should consider how far your current power sources can take you.

Can you manage with the gas or charcoal grill or will you need further energy options?

Alternatives for more amps include an electrical outlet where the power is sourced from your vehicle itself (through what used to be the cigarette lighter port) or a full-fledged gas generator.

You may not think its necessary, but if you are going to run a TV, computer or blender you probably need something to plug it in to.

It’s all about giving yourself options!
Categories: Ownership
Tags: tailgating