Crimson Tide fans didn’t let the heat and humidity deter them as the Alabama faithful turned out for the season’s first tailgate against Arkansas State.
Last season I met Meredith and Marc Lipson at the Iron Bowl in Auburn, Alabama, when they set up multiple tents in a prime, albeit, enemy location, near ESPN’s College Gameday stage. Marc and I kept in touch during the off-season, and he and Meredith were kind enough to allow me to spend the day with their family and friends.
I’m always curious how fans start tailgating and what traditions they learn from others or develop themselves. The Lipson’s, who live near Macon, GA, didn’t begin tailgating until their daughter Anna enrolled at Alabama a few years ago. They met other families who expressed an interest in tailgating, starting with one tent and few chairs evolved to one of the best set-ups on campus.
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Of the many aspects of college tailgating, specifically SEC tailgating, that I enjoy, is the hospitality extended to guests and other fans. A friend and social media client, Dana Beavers of Dana’s Flowers in nearby Fayette, Alabama, was kind enough to design an Alabama arrangement for me to give the Lipson’s. Fortunately, it fit perfectly with the décor in the four tents they had just east of the hedge’s and near the president’s mansion, and just across from the bell tower known as Denny Chimes.
Alabama Game Day Tailgating
The majority of tailgate areas and tents are set up in what is known as “The Quad,” an ample space between the long row of fraternity houses, and within an easy walking distance of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Fans start staking out their spots as early as Thursday night, and the majority arrive early on Saturday morning to set up. If you’re looking for a complete turn-key operation, groups such as Tailgate Guys can provide everything from chairs to wide-screen TVs and sound systems.
The Lipson’s typically have some food catered, but Marc always fires up the grill, cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages whose aroma made the thousands of fans walking wanting a taste of this outstanding tailgate food. One service Alabama provides for tailgaters are charcoal dump stations for fans to safely extinguish charcoal grills, which bring a mouth-watering aroma and taste to the tailgating experience.
For this game, the Lipson’s served chicken tenders, quesadillas, chips, and queso, along with a Jimmy John sandwich platter. For everyone’s sweet tooth, they have a “secret ingredient” this season. Meredith and Marc are investors in an incredible product called, Cookie Nip Flavoring. It’s used in place of vanilla flavoring and offers a delectable taste to cookies or any recipe that calls for vanilla.
Brent Boudoin, an executive in the wine and spirit industry, is tasked with making sure the group’s specialty drink, the infamous Yellow Hammer, is created and kept full all day. Brent even insisted I learn how to mix the concoction of Bacardi Rum, vodka, Amaretto, pineapple juice, and orange juice if I planned to hang around.
The Lipson’s children, Anna and her brother Jack, who plays baseball at a junior college in Alabama, invited friends to stop by, adding to the game day excitement. One of the best components of any tailgate is when students, parents, and alumni come together to support a team. The tailgate scene at Alabama has a balanced mixture of students, alumni, and parents which brings a unique dynamic to any game day atmosphere.
Another part of tailgating I enjoy is meeting new friends. I complemented Chris Rogers on the aroma of his cigar, which led to him asking me to drop by the Fort Scott tent, appropriately named after one of the hosts, Scott Wadsworth. C.D. Lackey and his wife Gina, along with other regulars, prepare and bring most of the food for their four-tent, man-cave turned tailgate. It’s difficult to miss, with an inflated version of Bama’s mascot, “Big Al,” welcoming friends and guests.
The Fort Scott group had plenty of excellent tailgate food, including barbecue and all the typical side items you would expect to find at any Southern gathering. And they don’t let away games curtail their tailgating fun, because all they do is move the party to C.D. and Gina’s home. They were kind enough to invite me anytime, but C.D. warned me that if I rang the doorbell after kickoff that I would be standing outside for about three hours. “Just open the door and come on in,” C.D. noted.
I think I’m going to take the Lackey’s up on their offer soon. And by the way, thanks for the cigar, Chris!
Alabama Tailgate Attire
It wasn’t only hot, but extremely humid this early September day, so most everyone dressed for comfort. Fans from outside the southeast may notice students and fans tend to dress up more than fans in other parts of the country. Many coeds are dressed “to the nines” in rompers, which and still in vogue on Southern campuses.
Fraternities, which along with social sororities, are a huge part of college life in the South. Frat pledges at Alabama are easy to spot in khaki slacks, white button-down shirts and ties with Navy Blazers. OSM refers to this combination as the Southern Man’s Uniform since it can easily be dressed up on down, depending on the occasion. Oh, and when you see a pledge carrying a large stack of stadium cups, it’s a part of their pledge duties. For the most part, fans dress in varying shades of crimson and white, with plenty of black and white houndstooth to honor the legendary coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Purchasing Access to College Tailgates Is Now Easy
If you’re looking to experience the tailgating atmosphere of the nation’s best college football program, then you have ample opportunity since six home games are remaining in this season’s schedule. Keep in mind that SEC games will be extremely crowded, but still an excellent way to experience Alabama game day tailgating. If by chance beer pong is your game, then The Quad is your destination. It’s the “Vegas” for beer pong enthusiasts.
Tailgate Connect is a new service that allows fans to find tailgate hosts at various schools around the country. For a fee, you can join tailgaters such as the Lipson’s and tailgate like a local. Click on the link to learn more about their services.
Tickets for any Alabama game will be difficult to find, but if you have the cash and know the right people it gets a little easier. On my way into the game, I ran into Bo and Ed. They are registered ticket resellers, so buying or selling from these guys is legal and accessible. Give them a call at (601) 720-8301 or (662) 607-6644, and they’ll help you find seats within Bryant-Denny stadium that are right for you.
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SEC Schools Serve Up the Nations Best College Tailgates
The next stop is Oxford, Mississippi and Ole Miss as the Rebels play hosts to Alabama. Don’t think for a second this game is an automatic win for the Tide because Coach Saban has lots to be nervous about anytime he ventures west to play Ole Miss. Kickoff for this September 15 game is late, so fans have all day to tailgate. Reach out to the folk at Tailgate Connect if you’re looking for a great tailgate to join.