What do you do at a college football tailgate?

What do you do at a college football tailgate?

At a college football tailgate, fans gather before the game to celebrate and show team spirit. Activities typically include grilling and sharing food like burgers, hot dogs, and snacks. People enjoy drinks, often including beer and cocktails. Games such as cornhole, beer pong, and ladder toss are popular. Music, team chants, and socializing with friends and fellow fans create a festive atmosphere. Fans also display team colors, wear team gear, and decorate their tailgate area with banners and flags. It’s a lively, communal event that builds excitement and camaraderie before the game.

Grilling and Eating

Grilling and eating are central activities at a college football tailgate, creating a festive atmosphere and bringing fans together. Tailgaters often arrive hours before the game to set up portable grills and cook a variety of foods. Classic tailgate fare includes burgers, hot dogs, sausages, ribs, chicken wings, and kebabs, often accompanied by an array of sides like potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and chips. Desserts such as cookies, brownies, and pies are also popular.

Many tailgaters bring coolers filled with beverages, including beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks like soda and water. Sharing food and drinks fosters a sense of community, with fans often exchanging recipes and grilling tips. Some tailgates even feature themed menus or cooking competitions, adding to the excitement and camaraderie.

Grilling at a tailgate is not just about the food; it’s about the social experience. Friends, family, and fellow fans gather around the grill, enjoying the aroma of cooking food and engaging in lively conversation. It’s a time to bond, share laughs, and build anticipation for the game ahead. The communal nature of grilling and eating at a tailgate enhances the overall tailgating experience, making it a cherished tradition for college football fans.


Drinking is a key part of the college football tailgate experience, contributing to the festive and social atmosphere. Fans often bring coolers stocked with a variety of beverages, including beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks like soda and water. Sharing drinks fosters camaraderie among friends, family, and fellow supporters. Many tailgates feature themed drinks or specialty cocktails to celebrate the occasion. While enjoying beverages, tailgaters engage in games such as beer pong and flip cup, which add to the fun and excitement. Responsible drinking and hydration are emphasized to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time before the game.

Cooking Competitions

Cooking competitions at college football tailgates add an extra layer of excitement and community spirit to the pre-game festivities. Tailgaters often organize friendly contests to showcase their culinary skills, focusing on dishes like chili, barbecue, wings, or themed creations. Participants compete for bragging rights and often receive informal judging from fellow tailgaters or designated judges. These competitions foster camaraderie, encourage creativity in cooking, and create opportunities for fans to share recipes and cooking tips. They contribute to the vibrant and festive atmosphere of tailgating, enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved.

Playing Games

Playing games is a vibrant and essential part of the college football tailgate experience, adding excitement, friendly competition, and social interaction. Popular tailgating games include:

  • Cornhole: Teams toss bean bags at boards with holes, aiming to score points by landing bags in the hole or on the board.
  • Beer Pong: Players throw ping pong balls into cups of beer arranged in a triangle, with the goal of landing the ball in the opponent’s cups.
  • Ladder Toss: Players throw bolas (two balls connected by a string) onto a ladder-like structure, aiming to wrap them around rungs to score points.
  • Flip Cup: Teams compete to quickly drink from cups and flip them upside down using only the edge of the table.
  • Giant Jenga: Players take turns removing blocks from a large tower and placing them on top without causing the tower to collapse.
  • Frisbee: Casual games of catch or ultimate frisbee add to the fun and keep participants active.

These games foster interaction, help break the ice among new acquaintances, and create a lively, communal atmosphere. They are easy to set up and play, making them perfect for the tailgating environment. The friendly competition and teamwork involved in these games enhance the overall tailgating experience, making it more enjoyable and memorable. Whether you’re playing or cheering on participants, these games are a great way to pass the time and build excitement before the football game.

Listening to Music:

Listening to music is a popular activity at college football tailgates, enhancing the festive atmosphere and energizing fans before the game. Tailgaters often bring portable speakers or even set up small sound systems to play a variety of music genres. This creates a lively ambiance where fans can dance, sing along, and enjoy the pre-game festivities. Music helps to build camaraderie among fans, encourages interaction, and adds to the overall excitement of the event. It’s a way for fans to express their team spirit and enjoy a shared experience before heading into the stadium.

Team Spirit

Team spirit at college football tailgates is vibrant and contagious, as fans proudly display their allegiance through attire, decorations, and cheers. Tailgaters deck out in team colors, jerseys, hats, and face paint, creating a sea of school pride. They decorate their tailgate areas with banners, flags, and team memorabilia, transforming parking lots into spirited hubs of support. Fans engage in chants, cheers, and rituals to rally around their team, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. Team spirit at tailgates not only celebrates the sport but also strengthens bonds among fans, creating memorable experiences that enhance the game-day atmosphere.

Watching Early Games

Watching early games at college football tailgates is a common tradition where fans set up TVs, projectors, or stream games on mobile devices to catch other football matchups before their team plays. It creates a relaxed and social atmosphere, allowing fans to discuss games, players, and predictions while enjoying food and drinks. It adds to the excitement and anticipation leading up to the main event, enhancing the overall tailgating experience and bringing fans together in shared enthusiasm for football.

Taking Photos

Taking photos at college football tailgates is a popular way for fans to capture memories and showcase their team spirit. Tailgaters often snap photos with friends, family, and fellow fans, posing in front of decorated tailgate setups, team banners, or with team mascots and cheerleaders. These photos are shared on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, showcasing the excitement and camaraderie of the event. It’s a fun way to document the pre-game festivities, celebrate team pride, and create lasting memories of the tailgating experience.

Visit with Friends

Visiting with friends at college football tailgates is a central aspect of the experience, fostering camaraderie and celebration. Fans gather in designated parking lots or areas, sharing food, drinks, and conversation while discussing the game and catching up on life. It’s a time for laughter, reminiscing, and creating new memories in a lively and social atmosphere. Tailgates provide a unique opportunity for friends to bond over their shared love for the team, making the pre-game festivities as memorable as the game itself.

Interact with the Players and Coaches

Interacting with players and coaches at college football tailgates can be a thrilling experience for fans. Opportunities typically include autograph sessions, meet-and-greets, and public appearances where fans can meet their favorite athletes, get memorabilia signed, and take photos. Players and coaches may also engage with fans through social media, providing another avenue for interaction. It’s important for fans to approach interactions respectfully, considering the busy schedules and game-focused mindset of players and coaches. These interactions can deepen fans’ connection to the team and create lasting memories of game-day festivities

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