Tailgating: Keep it Simple – and Nice

Virginia Tech Hokies Tailgate - photo courtesy: Karen TorgersenYou might associate football game parking lots with the smell of smoke and beef, but veteran Virginia Tech Hokie tailgaters Art and Barb Keown skip the grilling. They say, “Keep it simple – but nice.” They’ve been at this for about 15 years, and for the last several they’ve collaborated with a former VT finance grad student of Art’s. (The student is now retired, with a daughter who is a senior at Tech; his family plus the daughter’s friends participate in the tailgate at every home game.)

Barb volunteers tips for a simple, successful tailgate.

Pack with reverse logic. (For example, the table needs to come out of the car first, so resist the urge to put it on the bottom and stack other stuff on top.

Arrive 2-3 hours before kick-off. (The Keowns’ friends, whose parking spot is near a grassy area – Bonus! – get there even earlier and set up a tent.)

Attach one large trash bag to each side of the back of the vehicle – one for trash and one for recycling. Take them with you when you leave.

Keep a large bag packed with stuff you use at every game. (Barb’s bag stays packed all year.)

RELATED: Simple – and Nice – Tailgating RecipesSimple and Nice Tailgating Recipes

tailgate_tableBarb’s essential equipment:

  • folding table to set food on
  • cooler on wheels (to get food from their car to their partner’s tent)
  • a Hokie-colored table cloth
  • a centerpiece (“We bring a little Hokie Bird mascot to every game – just for fun.”)
  • orange and maroon paper plates & napkins (“I keep a constant supply. I buy them whenever I’m near an Ikea; they have the colors and they’re cheap.”)
  • bottle opener (The Keowns’ plays “Tech Triumph” when it opens the bottle.)
  • folding chairs (“I always bring four because I have them,” adds Barb, “and they’re nice, but we rarely sit on them. Mostly people stand around, mingle with neighboring tailgaters … it’s very social.”)
  • trash bags
  • a list for jotting down the food you bring to each game (“At the end of the season – voila! – you have menus for next year.” Note: Keep this list in your always-packed bag.)
  • sunscreen
  • 2 extra Hokie baseball caps

For more tailgating ideas, especially if you do plan to grill onsite, check out BuzzFeed’s “41 Tailgating Tips That Are Borderline Genius” or “Top 5 Tailgating Tips” from HowStuffWorks.

Photo credits: Karen Torgersen