Some students think the perfect fall football tailgate involves hamburgers, barbecue, booze, games and friends. People gather on Auburn's campus and all over town for pre-game festivities. But for some, tailgating has more to offer than food and fun before going into the stadium.
"Tailgating is a special time because you are with all the people you'll go to the game with, all your friends," said Corey Smith, graduate student in biomechanics. "You're having a good time conversing, but there is a real sense of community, too, with the people in the next tent over. You'll get to know them over the whole season."
Someone not familiar with football traditions might think tailgating involves sitting on a truck's tailgate, or as Google defines it as "to eat an informal meal served from the back of a parked vehicle," but that's not the case.
Most people tailgate in style with RVs, motorhomes, decorated cars or tents with satellite television connections.
The concept of tailgating is not complicated, but there's more to tailgating than a good time.
"You go to the site, you set up a tent, you hang out, cook, hang out some more and then go to the game and it's a great way to get into the Auburn spirit before the game," said Lynn Tamblyn, senior in industrial and systems engineering. "I like to spend time with Auburn people and fans before the game and it's a time where you cook, grill and hang out with friends."
Auburn fans, hopeful to celebrate football, flock to campus beginning Fridays at 4 p.m., when tailgaters are allowed to reserve certain areas on campus.
Tailgating on campus is so prevalent, the University established guidelines for tents used on University property.
"It's a big community thing, people are happy before the game and it's a fun atmosphere," Smith said. "It's all about community, I think. I always bring my grill because someone needs a grill master, and that's me."
Auburn University allows tailgating in the hayfields on Donahue Drive, the Intramural Fields, at Ag Heritage Park, on the Student Center Greenspace and the Weagle Woods behind the Forestry and Wildlife building.
"I love it. I grew up tailgating when I was little. It's a real nice ambiance before the game," Smith said. "You don't care about the game just yet. If you are uptight about the game, tailgating eases you up a little bit."
Tailgating goes beyond Jordan-Hare Stadium and Auburn's central campus.
There are parks dedicated to RV tailgating, like University Station RV Resort on Highway 14, where the park offers a shuttle service to the Stadium.
"The atmosphere here during home football exceeds your most elaborate expectation for tailgating," said Jill Holt of University Station. "Everyone here is here for Auburn football. Golf carts are decked out in their Auburn decor with horns, and big sound systems playing Auburn songs or ballgames as they breeze around the community and throughout the park, exchanging 'War Eagles' with fellow passing fans."
University Station covers 92 acres with approximately 550 sites available for RVs. Holt said there are approximately 450-650 RVs at the site, depending on the game.
"Tailgating has evolved to another level here at the station. There is an unspoken competition to "out-Auburn" the neighbors, or at least represent yourself very well in your display," Holt said. "Many sites have gone from camping to "glamping" here. Elaborate decks, coach houses, landscaped lawns and of course, all of the Auburn Tailgate decor you can find to promote team pride."
Friday nights, University Station features live bands performances with meals alongside a bonfire.
Holt said there is a tradition of events that include Halloween costume contests, parades, church services and auctions for Auburn scholarship funds.
"Our guests vary in age from newborn to 90 plus in years," Holt said. "We have tailgaters who are grandparents entertaining their families and grandchildren, to large tailgates with lots of college students, to quiet couples who just want a place to relax."
Holt said tailgating away from central campus is a money-saver because people do not have to drive their RVs back and forth to Auburn every weekend.
At places like University Station, people are able to leave their RVs at the site all season.
"The two main charms are the enormous amount of fun we have here with friends, new and old, and the hassle-free experience you get when you have a spot reserved and your site is set up when you get here," Holt said. "You just unlock the door and start your party."
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