True Texas Tailgating Takes Planning, Time
By Amber Groce
From hook ‘em horns to the lit orange tower to “The Eyes of Texas”, UT has its fair share of traditions. Among these, tailgating is a Texas tradition that takes planning–more than most game-goers realize.
The tailgating tradition begins early on Fridays before home-game Saturdays. Most tailgates begin several hours before the kickoff, which requires the hosts to start setting up and preparing hours before that. Many groups and organizations at The University of Texas set up booths for tailgating. Companies sponsor some because they realize so many show up to tailgate before games. The tailgate tradition tends to last longer for evening games than for morning and afternoon ones because there is more time to set up, cook, eat and hang out.
Carter Goss, advertising representative for Texas Student Media, hosts The Daily Texan’s Kickoff Countdown Tailgate Party that is sponsored by Toyota before every home game. Goss said that companies jump at sponsorship opportunities––unique ways to be associated with the University––because there are so many loyal UT fans at the tailgates. At any given time, there are typically 40 people at the Texan’s tailgate, with about 200 in attendance
throughout the day. One member of the team begins waiting in line at 5 a.m. on Friday mornings to reserve a space in the parking lot. Team members continue taking turns in line until the space on the lot is secured around 6 p.m. that same evening. Last year, Goss began waiting in line Wednesday morning for the Ohio State game. There are normally 60 groups that tailgate in the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum parking lot, where Goss’ tailgate is located. Tailgates, which typically begin anywhere from four hours to 30 minutes before kickoff, sometimes
resume for an hour or so after the games. County Line BBQ provides sausage wraps with tortillas and Cannoli Joe’s provides a veggie and Italian sausage dish for the Texan’s tailgate. Along with catered food and beverages, Goss said that the best tailgates incorporate fun activities for the fans, and give out prizes. Goss’ tailgate tradition is going on its 15th year.
“We offer free food and fun,” Goss said. “Every year, all the tailgate teams in lot seven at Brazos and MLK put together a golf tournament to benefit the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum.”
Jason Pittman started his tailgate, Texas Pigs, seven years ago. His tailgate is also in the Bob Bullock Museum lot, and has been at that location for the past five years. Sponsored by Shiner, Red Bull and Dos Lunas Tequila, the Texas Pigs tailgate includes throwing washers and watching the game via satellite on their plasma screen television.
“We arrive early on Saturday mornings to set up the bus and tap the kegs,” Pittman said. “We started off with two chairs and a Lil’ Smokey Grill. Now we have a renovated school bus, a 55-inch plasma-screen TV, three to four kegs, food and hundreds of friends.”
Justin Roan hosts Texas Ringers, another tailgate on home game days in the same parking lot. Since they cook their food themselves, they purchase and prepare the food on Fridays before game days. They recently teamed up with Texas Pigs and Hornball to triple the tailgating fun. “We used to have about 10 people at our tailgates, but now my wife and I have to cook enough food for at least 200 people,” Roan said. “We set up and start cooking early Saturday morning to make sure all the food is ready before we have to leave for the game.”
Tailgates bring fans together to celebrate the one thing they all have in common: their passion for Longhorn football. Look for the massive crowds on Martin Luther King Boulevard between Congress and Brazos Oct. 27 when Texas plays Nebraska. It is hard to miss the Texas Pigs’ big orange school bus.