Much of the fun of going to football games is the tailgating, before (and sometimes after) the game. What a fun atmosphere, with people wearing their team colors and enjoying great food and drink with their friends and maybe a game of corn hole before the kickoff.
I love seeing the elaborate spreads that some people put on, sometimes complete with tents and tables covered with white linen tablecloths, candelabras and vases of fresh flowers. Some people bring their grills so you get to enjoy the wonderful smells of whatever they are cooking.
If you’re in North Carolina you will surely see a Bojangles box or two. It’s such a festive time, with hopes that your team will be the winner at the end of the game.
For me, tailgating takes on different forms, depending on the venue. If I’m at a professional game, I am out of town and not likely to participate in the traditional parking lot tailgating festivities because it’s just too hard to bring food, etc. when you’re staying in a hotel.
For these games, which are usually at the Panthers’ stadium in Charlotte, we usually go to a restaurant before the game or else eat at the stadium. We usually have club-level seats, and there’s one place that has awesome barbecue sandwiches.
And there’s a bar nearby where I can enjoy a good Bloody Mary or ice cold beer.
Our hotel is usually in walking distance of the stadium, so we don’t have to worry about driving. Brad’s parents have season tickets, so we meet up with them at halftime and after the game for dinner.
Last year we took the kids to see the Panthers play, which limited the amount of alcohol consumed. That’s okay – I still got my wonderful barbecue sandwich and by the end of the third quarter, Lexi, who was nine at the time, understood the difference between offense and defense and knew who Cam Newton was. All of the guys around me were impressed!
Hey, you’ve got to teach them young – soon I’ll be teaching them about betting against point spreads. Gabe and Lexi had a great time getting balloon hats and their faces painted in Panthers colors.
This year, Brad and I went to FedEx field to watch my beloved Redskins lose to the Falcons. Sigh. Luckily the rain held off for the game.
We took a shuttle from our hotel, and again had stadium food, but we did walk by all of the tailgaters who seemed to be having a great time in spite of the weather.
I got a great Polish sausage and fries with a beer.
Brad had a beef brisket sandwich that he said was good – it was dripping with a tasty sauce!
Even though we lost, I got to see RGIII and Alfred Morris in action, and at least we scored some.
Our friends Anne and Carlton invited Brad and me to a Wolfpack game this fall and we had a blast.
True tailgating, complete with delicious beef tenderloin that Carlton had cooked in advance, potato and pasta salads, beer, etc. The cool thing about football games at State is that you can go back to the parking lot at halftime and eat more food and drink more beer.
My friend Trudi invited me to ECU’s last home game of the season and we had a ball! I love the Pirate’s stadium and it had been years since I had been to a game there. Trudi’s parking place is right across from where a radio station sets up a tent with free food from a local restaurant and some guy brings in a few large coolers with free beer. Sweet!
Our friend T.O. wanted to stop by Parker’s Barbecue for our tailgating feast, and that was fine by me. All of us except Trudi got some delicious BBQ.
Unfortunately for her, what they had advertised on the radio as the food of the game turned out to be something else (pizza), and there was not much of it left by the time we got there. Oh well, the game was an offensive score fest that went into double OT, with ECU coming out on top!
OK, I realize that the regular college football season is over, but there are plenty of bowl games left to enjoy. The pro season is winding down as well, but playoffs are still ahead, so there is time to get your tailgate on! And if you have an extra ticket, take me along!
Eat, drink and be merry!
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