If you’re just getting into tailgating or simply upping your game presence, the good news is the basics of a great tailgate are not hard to come by and you can be fully prepared for the season with just a few hours work.
- 1. Food & beverage. Plenty of folks make cooking the central part of their tailgate and scour such sites as allrecipes for tailgate specific meals, and I wouldn’t be telling you anything about beverage choice that you couldn’t find on hundreds of other websites. For people that don’t want to mess with that part, you can get a great to-go order from Sonnys and feed a large group with no prep work needed. And the number one thing to know about alcoholic beverages is that if you’re on private property you’re generally ok, but step into a public street, sidewalk, or university avenue with an open container and you”re asking to get a fine.
- 2. Shade. I list this second because those first few home football games at UF are HOT. While some of our tailgating lots are shaded most of the day (particularly lot 2 and lot 3, but some of lot 1 as well) if you’re in the sun from 10am to watch a 3:30 game, and you’re not on the alumni side or in a skybox, you’re going to roast. So when you tailgate, get a canopy. They set up quick, come with rollers for easy transport, and keep you and your cold beverages out of the sun. It’s easy to get a blue 10×10 from amazon or you can quickly go upmarket to one of the larger canopies from Shelterlogic or a camping store. Just be sure to get a carrier that rolls, any quality canopy is going to be heavy and you don’t want to lug it.
- 3. Power. Whether you’re using an amplified stereo or a 42″ plasma, you’re going to need power. If your needs are small you can get an inverter that will convert your cigarette lighter to a standard outlet, but you’ll either want to carefully watch your power consumption or leave your car idling. If you’re going to power more than a few fans or a blender, you might as well invest a surprisingly small amount of money in a gas generator. Newer models are quiet, efficient, and cheap. For example, here’s a 1200 watt model for less than $150. Spend more to get more, but that’s a pretty nice starting point.
- 4. Gimmicks. Nothing says tailgating like the awesome (or goofy) device you’ve brought with you to maximize your favorite tailgating activity. There’s the Cruzin Cooler that combines transportation without leaving behind your favorite beverage, various hitch mounted portable grills, cornhole (aka corn toss or bean toss) which is popular in our lots because of our open grass areas. We’ve had everything from a guy who recreated a living room complete with furniture and throw rugs (all to provide ambiance for the big screen TV and stereo system) to a group of kids who built a device allowing 100 people to drink a beer at once. Beer hats, footballs that whistle when you throw them, inflatable gators, all are accessories that make gameday enjoyable and memorable.
If you show up with any or all of these items in mind, we’ll provide an uncomparable location to tailgate in.