Posted on August 31, 2010 by Mary Ellen Brewington
Living in the heart of Big Orange Country, Cherokee Distributing Company is familiar with tailgates. We’re fond of the festivity that brings together friends and family, food and flowing beverages, fans and fun.
If you also reside in East Tennessee, it’s likely that you’re a Vol fan. But, we’ve got plenty of alumni from around the SEC and other conferences, as well as diehard NFL fans. Whichever team you cheer for in the fall, a tailgate party is a great way to celebrate the season with loved ones.
Here are Cherokee’s top tips for a terrific tailgate:
1. Claim your spot. Tailgating started as a way for fans to pre-party and eat in the area surrounding the game site before going in to the stadium. Whether you’re nestled close to Neyland Stadium or parked on campus at an away game, that’s tailgating at its best. Just be sure to plan ahead as many desirable tailgating spots are claimed the night before or in the early morning. Be prepared to pay cash for parking and car pool so you aren’t limited by finding space for extra vehicles.
If you don’t have tickets to the game or can’t get on location that day, don’t toss away your tailgate. Tailgating has come to represent game day celebration, no matter whether you’re at a car, a bar or a house. Gather with friends at a local pub or restaurant to watch the game on TV, or host a tailgating party at your home.
2. Bring the refreshments. Pack coolers with ice, snacks and beverages ahead of time. Once you snag your prime spot, you may not be in walking distance of a place to grab extra items. In the southeast, football season starts when it’s still hot out, so be sure to pack water and hydrating drinks in addition to your favorite brews – and you’ll need plenty of ice to keep them cool.
If you’re the host or hostess at a house party, check out our ‘On Tap’ post on planning how much beer to buy. You may also want to try the new Miller and Coors mini-kegs – they’re economical and fit in your fridge.
3. Pack the essentials. There are a few things you don’t want to forget that will help make your tailgate a success. Make a list and check it before you head out the door to fight the game day traffic:
- Plenty of water along with other refreshments
- Trash bags
- Paper towels/napkins/wet naps
- A good kitchen knife (Be sure to leave it in the car when you head into the stadium!)
- Bottle opener/can opener
- Drink koozies or can-huggers
4. Party in style. The energy and spirit from sports fans is intoxicating. Embrace the fun and play up the sports theme. Wear your team colors and bring supplies that match like Tennessee Titan blue cups and napkins or UT Big Orange cheese puffs and orange slices. You can also pick food styles and beverages that fit your tailgate whether they celebrate the home team or represent your opponent. That way you can try new things and enjoy some variety throughout the season. Here are some festive menu ideas for the first five big games the Vols will face this season:
- Sept. 11 – vs. Oregon – in Knoxville – When the Ducks come to town, face the challenge head on by preparing grilled duck breast. To top it off, serve with Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale.
- Sept. 18 – vs. Florida – in Knoxville – There’s only one thing to serve when playing the University of Florida, and that’s fried Gator tail. In celebration of the Orange and Blue crew coming to town, sip on a Blue Moon garnished with an orange slice.
- Oct. 2 – vs. LSU – in Baton Rouge, La. – Whether you travel down to Louisiana or enjoy the game from home, the LSU showdown calls for a celebration of Cajun food. Prepare some spicy jambalaya – a yummy, hearty tailgating dish – and serve it with Abita Purple Haze, brewed in Abita Springs, just north of New Orleans.
- Oct. 9 – vs. Georgia – in Athens, Ga. – When the Vols play the Bulldogs, it’s a classic rivalry that calls for a classic tailgating staple: hotdogs. But, why not mix it up and serve “Sloppy Dawgs” – in honor of how you may hope the opposing team will play! And with new UT Head Coach Derek Dooley returning to his hometown to coach against his law school alma mater – and where his dad Vince Dooley was legendary football coach for 25 years – pick up the Shiner Family Reunion variety pack for the occasion.
- Oct. 23 – vs. Alabama – in Knoxville – When the Crimson Tide rolls in to Tennessee, it’s time to break out the barbeque. If you want to sample authentic Tide fare, order some Dreamland Bar-b-que sauce from the Tide’s hometown of Tuscaloosa. But, if you want to stay loyal to Big Orange Country, try the delicious sauces from local restaurants Calhoun’s, Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House, Buddy’s bar-b-q or Dead End BBQ. Enjoy the southern staple with Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea, a fun twist on the South’s favorite drink.
5. Celebrate responsibly. Be safe and practice moderation on game days. Make it a great experience for you and all the fans around you as you cheer your favorite team on to victory!