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Fall 2018










Are We There Yet?


treasure the memories of my childhood when I rode in the car with my dad to a sporting event. Whether that trip was 20 minutes or two hours, my anticipation and excitement always had me asking—Are We There Yet? When I started Inside Tailgating, those childhood and adult sporting experiences are what fueled my passion for the tailgating lifestyle. I understand the positive impact tailgating has on sports, communities and families. Consumers spend a ton of money on tailgating, and I wanted and still want to see tailgating evolve as a formal industry. While we have made a couple of attempts to be part of a formalization, as have others, it hasn’t happened. I recall being at a Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) conference in the early years when an NFL representative said to the crowd, “In three years, none of you will exist.” The big sports organizations were trying to control fantasy sports by filing lawsuits because the powers that be did not like the lack of control. The power play failed and now those same organizations obviously embrace fantasy sports. Similarly, the NFL talked negatively about tailgating for years and tried to control it with policies that fans did not like. Today you see the NFL and NFL Network making a lot more effort to embrace the tailgating lifestyle with their content, NFL Draft party, Super Bowl parties etc. You’ll see an example of that in our fall issue in an article our Carroll R. Walton wrote about the new Home Depot Backyard, an 11-acre greenspace the Atlanta Falcons are opening this fall to enhance fans’ tailgating experience on game days. We are also seeing NASCAR tracks introduce new areas and amenities to provide better tailgating options for fans. Colleges are adapting and investing in tailgating-friendly opportunities and environments. For the first time, the current trends and attitudes from big sports organizations where the majority of tailgating activities occur seem to be aligned in a positive way. That gives me renewed hope and excitement for tailgating to be recognized as a formal industry. I hope we are there now.

25 Inside Tailgating’s Favorite Fan Traditions in the NFL


5 JaneHudson Where Lifestyle Meets Loyalties 8 What is Your Nexgrill? 10 Get the Ghost NeXus Ghost RV



13 SEC Tailgate Special

FANS & THRILLS 30 Tailgating in Atlanta’s New Backyard


W. Stacey Moore Founder and Publisher, Inside Tailgating @LilBig02




DESIGN & PRODUCTION BY Fiddlehead Studio & Press:

W. STACEY MOORE III: Managing Director 704-595-7603

W. STACEY MOORE III: Managing Director

JOANNA BUONO: Art Director


MICHAEL KEAN: Business Development RYAN ALESSIO: Chief Tailgator

For information about distribution, newsstand sales or investment and franchise opportunities, please contact Stacey Moore at Inside Tailgating Volume 6, Issue 14, Fall 2018, Copyright© 2018 by Tailgating Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Inside Tailgating™ is the trademark of Tailgating Ventures, LLC. Printed in the United States of America.

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by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)


ristin Celano is a self-taught fashion designer, entrepreneur and most importantly, a Florida Gator. Those three passions inspired the Sarasota, Fla. native and now transplant New Yorker to create a fashion line geared toward women who want to dress for their favorite sporting events without feeling frumpy. Celano has managed to do the unimaginable with her line called JaneHudson—bring fashion to the field, by creating high quality but wearable clothes that work on game day, date night or into the work week. The looks are based on your favorite team’s colors, not on gaudy logos. So you can wear one of JaneHudson’s swing dresses or

T-shirt dresses to the game and everybody will know who you’re pulling for, but you can put on a cardigan and heels and slip seamlessly into a night out. To check out sports team-inspired color combinations you won’t find at the department store and with the designer look you won’t find at a fan apparel store, go to

The name JaneHudson is inspired by the apartment where Celano lived at the intersection of Jane Street and Hudson Street in New York’s West Village, when she decided to launch her own brand in 2016. “JaneHudson sits at the intersection of spirit and style,” reads her website, harkening back to her days in media and marketing. Celano spoke to Inside Tailgating’s Carroll Walton recently about how she came up with the idea for her line and about the need she’s working to fill for female fans who want higher fashion in tailgating lots and in the stands. Q: How did you get the idea for this fashion line?

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GRILLS&GEAR A: I went to the University of Florida, and that’s where this whole idea started. At these universities, you start building that loyalty and sense of camaraderie and sense of being aligned with a team and school and colors and spirit. When you graduate, it’s not something that leaves you. You’re an alum for the rest of your life. That’s what you find joy in and what you support. For me, my experience was such a positive exciting experience that it carried into after I graduated. Every year my girlfriends and I would always descend on Gainesville. We would choose a weekend, and we would spend the money on plane tickets and hotel and the game tickets. Where I found myself struggling—and also after informal polling of friends and family, found that other women that are fans did as wel— was finding looks that were, in our case, Designer and entrepreneur, Kristin Celano.


orange and blue. That’s a pretty tough colorway. If (the Gators) were navy and red, I’m not sure I’d be here right now. Q: When did you graduate? A: I graduated from Florida in 2004. Florida was really good right after I left. That’s when we had the (quarterback Tim) Tebow years. I did have one year of (Steve) Spurrier (as coach) which was great. They won two national championships (in 2007 and 2009) after I left. I moved south to Tampa, Fla. for two or three years, and then I moved up to New York. I’ve been in New York for a little over 10 years now. It was one of those “I’ll move up here for a few years and then I’ll move back down South.” I’m a Southerner at heart but have stuck around. I met my husband. This is where we are now. Basically I started a career in marketing and digital communications and branding and worked at large digital companies like AOL and Yahoo and Gill Group. I built a decent career for myself here and then really had this feeling in the back of my mind, kind of an itch, like there’s something I want to do for myself, but it’s got to be a really good idea and I wonder what this looks like. Q: So that itch became fashion for sports fans? A: For years I would run into the same struggle of how do I support my team. How do I do it if I’m in New York and I have to go to dinner afterwards but I don’t want to wear a logo T or a jersey? How can I elevate this, but still look like I’m a Gator fan when I’m supporting the Gators that day? I did a bunch of competitive research and realized no one was doing this in an elevated way. I polled more family and friends and then decided to go for it. I worked tirelessly at night and on weekends and early in the morning having my day job and brought it as far as I could where I was producing stuff, all self-taught and basically got it as far off the ground as possible. I resigned from my career on a

Monday and then I launched JaneHudson officially on a Friday. I’ve made a million mistakes, but I’ve also learned a ton. We produce everything in the garment district in New York, which is really cool. Q: So did people in the fashion industry scoff at your idea? A: I’ve gotten taken seriously for the most part. Living in New York is really unique because you have a lot of New England schools where there is not this whole idea of this tailgate experience or this game day experience like we have in the South. (A lot of people here are) more professionally sports driven, which is fine because we talk about a spirit color story on purpose so that does parlay into professional sports, but really the collegiate is the bread and butter and where our focus is. I think people who get it are like “That’s genius!” which is great to hear. Now I’ve just got to amplify what we’re doing so many people get that awareness to keep propelling us forward. Q: It can be challenging to find fan apparel that is feminine and has a flattering fit. Have you identified a need there? A: Yes, absolutely. I think the fit is super important. It took us a long time to get the right fit so it can fit a lot of different body styles. We use amazing fabrics that are all made in the USA and don’t pill, shrink or fade. It’s something you can wear season after season, so it’s a better product overall which is really nice. I went to a national collegiate store’s convention in April this year and spoke with a lot of these buyers first hand. They’re all understanding now that women are actually looking for stuff that isn’t overly emblematic, that doesn’t have a giant logo on it, and they’re starting to tailor what they carry in their storefronts to meet this kind of demand. So it’s happening and they’re realizing it which is fantastic for us. But the options have been historically so limited when it

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GRILLS&GEAR comes to your team colors. We’re about to launch purple and gold for LSU, or purple in general, which is great. We have the bright orange which is going to cover Tennessee and Clemson. We’re really trying to cater to these different universities that have these massive alumni networks and undergrads and give them options to elevate what they want to wear to the games. Q: You sell clothing based on those color combinations but on your website you also have some cool vintage pieces with more subtle logos. Was your idea always to sell a mix of both? A: I was actually sourcing a lot of really cool vintage sweatshirts and pullovers and scarves for my different photo shoots. I wanted to drive home, “Look, you style it this way, you’re going to a game. You style it this way, you can go out on date night on a Saturday night.” I was getting a lot of feedback from customers saying, “I want to buy the entire look.” (So now) they can buy a JaneHudson piece and this one of a kind vintage piece and get 20 percent off. Q: Speaking of cost, customers who spend $72 to $125 on one of your dresses aren’t going to want to just wear them to four football games a year. Was that part of your motivation in creating such versatile pieces? A: 100 percent. It was a very thoughtful price point because it’s an expensive fabric but it is something that’s more versatile and will last you longer than the other stuff in the market. Everything I was seeing in the category just wasn’t made of quality stuff. For me personally, if I was going to embark on this, I had to be so proud of the end product. It took me two years to source the fabric. Each time I thought I found it, I would create a sample and wear it to work one day just to test it out. It would pill after the first wear. I thought, “I can’t sell this. This isn’t my fabric.” It had to be season after season. I still wear some of my samples I created three, four years ago. They don’t

pill, shrink or fade because it’s a really nice fabric quality. It’s actually the same fabric quality as Eileen Fisher and Mara Hoffman, which are the really elevated brands. Q: Are the styles you chose targeting the girl in the South? Something the girl in Minnesota can layer? How do you decide which shapes to use? Who are you dressing? A: I have customers at every age range. I have customers who trend younger that are current college students, and I’ve sold dresses to women in their 70s. We have swing styles which sometimes trend a little older because it’s not all that form-fitted. It’s got a nice deep pocket to it. It’s very comfortable. It’s easy to throw on and go. My focus right now is that Southern area: Florida and Georgia and Tennessee and Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi because they do have those warmer climates year round. We’re working now on creating more options for cooler weather states, but everything is meant to be layered where you need it and how you want to style it dependent on the weather. Q: How has the response been? A: The response has been really great. It’s funny I was reading something to my husband last night that I got through our customer service channel. The woman said, “I’m trying to get an orange skirt, but my husband so kindly pointed out to me that it looks like it’s a Texas orange and not a Tennessee orange. I just can’t commit this faux pas at the games, and he’s very concerned about it. I absolutely love your line, so I need you to help me navigate what color and what you think I should order.” It’s great when I read that stuff. It makes me so happy because this is what we’re looking to do and solve.

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by W. Stacey Moore (Twitter: @LilBig02)

Nexgrill? WHAT IS YOUR


ailgating, tiny homes and tiny apartments are the latest trend, so why not go small and portable with your grill? Nexgrill offers you two portable grill options to consider. Both grills come with two independent push-andturn ignition burners so you can cook at two different temperatures. That’s a feature you typically don’t find in portable grills. And you don’t need batteries or an external flame to ignite them, so you can rely on these grills to light up when you need them. Both grills can reach high temperatures quickly, which means you can fire it up and get cooking almost immediately. The differences in the two Nexgrill options are in the size and materials. The smaller two-burner portable grill has stainless steel components and folding legs. The larger one, the Fortress, features cast aluminum construction and porcelain cast iron cooking grates, giving it a rugged look that resembles the Weber Q. Check out the primary specs of these grills.

For more information check out


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Specification Stainless


Dimensions Lid Cooking Grids Total Cooking Surface Total BTUs Warranty

25.08”l x 18.48”w x 15.14’’h Cast Aluminum Porcelain Cast Iron 255 square inches 13,000 1 year / 5 year burners

22.05”l x 19.57”w x 15.59”h Stainless Steel Stainless Steel 184 square inches 16,000 1 year / 3 year burners

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by W. Stacey Moore (Twitter: @LilBig02)


he Ghost by relative RV newcomer NeXus is spooking the competition. The Ghost, which is a Super C diesel pusher with a 20,000 lb towing capability, is an excellent option for tailgaters to consider.

Why? For starters, NeXus is the exclusive RV manufacturer of the International chassis and has an extensive network of dealers and service centers, so you don’t have to take it to an RV dealer to get chassis work done. The chassis comes with high strength low alloy all-steel framing, which provides 72% more strength than RVs built with aluminum. That kind of framing significantly reduces the amount of sway felt on the road and is typically found on vehicles priced $1 million or higher, like a Prevost bus conversion. The Ghost has Azdel panels in the sidewalls and roof, not wood, which increases the R factor and decreases the weight by half.


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NeXus offers three floor plans so that customers can find a setup that works well for any situation

The interior of the Ghost has the look and feel you would expect from a luxury motorhome, with raised panel cabinetry throughout. The furniture options are all high-end. And the interior lay-out offers unique versatility. The area over the front cab can be used as a sleeping bunk with a swivel TV or it can be built out with additional cabinetry to accommodate a mounted TV with storage behind it. The dinette, which features lockable drawers under the seating, can be converted into a sleeping area. You can choose theater or couch seating. The bedroom features a king bed, wardrobe area and mounted TV. In addition, the headboard in the bedroom raises up to expose more light or natural air to flow through or it can be closed for more privacy. The Multiplex wiring system features push button controls for lighting, power shades and other interior features. A galvanized HVAC duct system is a residential-style system that is rarely found in RVs at this price point. It allows for better and more efficient airflow while

avoiding the mold that builds up in typical systems. The exterior of the Ghost has a lot to offer both in appearance and function. Its special Sherwin Williams bodypaint and chrome detail adds to its visual appeal. And it comes equipped with an LED-lit automatic awning that protects an outdoor TV, speakers and the RV’s entrance from the elements. Another great feature is its bus style-lighted, rubber-lined storage area with doors that open out instead of up. Our favorite external feature on the Ghost is the fold-out tailgate table that is integrated into the design on the fiberglass end cap. It provides a large area which you can use for table-top grilling, serving food or setting up another TV. Leave it open or cover it with a tailgate tent for more sun and rain protection. NeXus offers three floor plans so that customers can find a setup that works well for any situation. The largest floor plan comes in the 36 DS, which features both bunk beds and a king bed to provide additional sleeping for kids or friends. The bottom

bunk doubles as a couch with seat belts and an additional TV on the opposite wall. The 34 DS is the Inside Tailgating choice primarily because of the double slides directly opposite of each other in the living area. That provides more area to roam and sets up better for social interaction. Another great feature of the 34 DS is that the toilet is separate from the shower, which typically provides more space for both and gives you the ability to seal off the back bedroom. The entry door is more centrally located which gives a nice separation from the living area to the kitchen and bath area. It also shifts the automatic awning and external entertainment center to the backside of the RV and closer to the tailgate table that comes out the back. That setup offers great flow, so friends and family can join in or exit the party with ease. If you want to make a statement every time you roll into a tailgate lot, consider the Ghost Super C. Your days of “being ghosted” will be over if you do. For more information, visit

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SEC by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)




his series of 14 recipes was provided to Inside Tailgating by Teri Stephens, a wife, mother of three girls, and diehard a Tennessee Volunteers fan who is the driving force behind the website Teri is from Big Sandy, Tennessee, a town of 500 people two hours west of Nashville. There she learned how to cook at a young age from her father who taught her the value of putting a meal on the table with whatever food they had on hand. We came across her idea for pairing a great recipe with each of the 14 Southeastern Conference schools and we just loved it. What’s better than the quality of college football in the SEC? The tailgating, of course! This series of recipes offers fans from all 14 schools great ideas for what to cook or bring to tailgates and watch parties this fall. And for those who dare to venture outside their natural SEC boundaries, this series is a great way to experiment with flavors from other parts of the SEC. And heck, you can at least mix up your menus when your favorite rival comes to town. We challenge you to try all 14! —Carroll R. Walton

From Teri Stephens Football season is our FAVORITE time of year. We love the weather, the crowds, the crazy football action, and of course, the food! We have created a tailgate recipe for every team in the Southeastern Conference. Our goal: to capture the spirit of each school’s team and make a fun and delicious recipe using local flavor and flair. So we put our football differences aside, and researched every school. If you have ever been to an SEC tailgate, you know that food is the only thing that brings opposing fans together. (Besides the fact that we all want to beat Alabama.) If you don’t follow college football or aren’t a fan of the SEC…that’s totally OK. The SEC Tailgate recipes are still awesome for your next party. Or a Tuesday. (We won’t judge.)

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FOOD&DRINK Alabama: Big Al’s Red Velvet Whoopie Pies I have to be totally honest with you all…as a Tennessee fan, this recipe was hard for me to make. The recipe itself was super easy, but putting those cute little A’s all over these crimson red velvet whoopie pies was painful. But I ate one, dang it. And it was good. This recipe is a must try. Easily adaptable to different flavors and using only 6 ingredients, these will be a hit at your Alabama tailgate or football viewing party. BUY THIS: 1 box red velvet cake mix

paper. Place them a couple of inches apart to allow for expansion during cooking.

3 eggs

4. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. (Repeat the process until all of the batter has been used. Use a new sheet of parchment paper with each batch.)

1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup water 4 cups powdered sugar 2 sticks butter room temperature COOK THAT: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and water with a hand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until the batter is smooth and creamy. 3. Using a spoon or scoop, measure even amounts of batter onto the parchment

5. While the cakes are baking, make the buttercream frosting. On high speed using a hand held mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Continue to mix for 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. 6. Spoon the frosting into a decorating bag. Snip the end off, and swirl a layer of icing on the inside of a cake. Place another cake on top.

7. Decorate the top of each whoopie pie as desired. For more details, go to:

Arkansas: Woo Pig Sooie! Hot Ham Dip Call the hogs, people! Football time in Arkansas is here, and so is this awesome recipe for Hot Ham Dip. Or as we like to call it “Woo Pig Sooie!” Dip. Perfect for your next Arkansas Tailgate Party. Full of browned ham, caramelized onions, and cheese, this appetizer recipe is like crack in a skillet. No joke, you won’t be able to stop eating it. BUY THIS: 2 cups diced ham

COOK THAT: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

12 oz cream cheese

2. In a large cast iron skillet, cook the diced ham in 1 tablespoon of butter until browned. Set aside.

1 1/3 cups sharp white cheddar shredded 1 1/3 cups cheddar shredded 1 1/3 cups Monterrey Jack shredded 1 medium onion thinly sliced and chopped 3 TB butter 3 green onions finely chopped 4 TB milk 2 TB Frank’s hot sauce 1/2 tsp paprika

3. In the same skillet, slowly cook the onions in the remaining butter until soft and caramelized. 4. Over low heat, stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add the remaining ingredients, including the browned ham and green onions, and stir well to combine. 5. Place skillet into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated and bubbly. Call the hogs, and serve warm with your favorite crackers or bread. For more details, go to:


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FOOD&DRINK Auburn: BBQ Pork Sliders with Tiger Sauce This recipe is sure to satisfy the hungriest of Auburn fans. These BBQ Pork Sliders are served with a sweet heat homemade Tiger Sauce and of course, a signature dill pickle. Your Auburn Tailgate will be the ultimate party zone on Saturday. Wait until you try the Tiger Sauce! A little sweet, a little hot and full of in-your-face flavor. Sounds like every Auburn fan I know, right? Maybe we should have called it War Eagle sauce. You can buy your pulled pork, or use our super easy “cook while you sleep� method. Just a few steps and you will wake up to a game day meal ready to go. BUY THIS: For the Sliders Boston Butt Pork Roast we used a 3.5 pound for this recipe 1/2 cup yellow mustard 1/2 cup dry BBQ rub of choice Slider Buns Dill pickle slices For the Tiger Sauce 1/2 cup BBQ sauce of choice we used Redneck Lipstick 1/2 cup ketchup 1/4 cup pineapple juice 2 TB butter 2 TB brown sugar 1 TB yellow mustard 1 TB Sriracha 1 tsp BBQ dry rub 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp cayenne 1/4 salt COOK THAT: 1. Coat the pork roast with yellow mustard, being sure to coat all of the surface area well. Sprinkle well with dry rub on all sides. 2. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate for anywhere between 2 hours to overnight. When you are ready to start cooking, unwrap the pork and place in a slow cooker or roaster set on 275 degrees. 3. Slowly cook the pork for several hours until it pulls apart easily. Turn once during

the cooking process. In this recipe we used a 3.5 pound piece of pork, and it cooked for 5 hours until done. If you are feeding a crowd, you can use an 8 pound pork butt and cook it overnight.

sauce pan. Stir in the BBQ sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Sriracha, dry rub, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook on medium heat until smooth and bubbly.

4. The cooking time will vary based on the size of meat you choose, and your roaster. However this is an easy way to prepare pulled pork with minimal effort.

7. Slowly add the pineapple juice and stir until desired consistency. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Cool and transfer to a glass jar for serving and storage.

5. Once the pork is done, transfer to a large aluminum pan and pull apart with your hands or forks. Sprinkle with extra rub if desired. Serve warm with buns, pickles, and Tiger Sauce.

For more details, go to:

6. For the Tiger Sauce, melt the butter in a

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FOOD&DRINK Florida: Gator Bait Chicken Bites with Swamp Sauce Attention Tailgators: This recipe is for your next Florida tailgate party! Gator Bait Chicken Bites. No, we didn’t actually cook up alligator. That just seems…wrong. Yes, I know, many people love it, but I just couldn’t. So…we went for the next best thing. Chicken. Haven’t you heard? It tastes like alligator. Oh, and what’s in the Swamp Sauce? A little bit of everything, in true Florida style. BUY THIS: For the Gator Bait 3 chicken breasts trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces 1 cup buttermilk

For the Swamp Sauce 4 TB chili sauce 3 TB mayo 3 TB Frank’s hot sauce 2 TB BBQ sauce any

1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce 2 TB Sriracha or more to taste 1/2 cup milk

2 TB mustard 1 TB Worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 egg

1/2 tsp paprika

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp black pepper

3 TB cornmeal 1 TB powdered sugar 1/4 tsp paprika 1/8 tsp pepper 1/8 tsp salt 1/2 cup vegetable oil divided (for cooking)

COOK THAT: For the Gator Bait 1. Combine the chicken, butter milk, 1/4 cup of the Frank’s hot sauce, and the Sriracha. Stir to coat the chicken well. Cover and refrigerate between 30 minutes to 4 hours. Drain the chicken.

2. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg and stir in the milk. In a separate shallow bowl or dish, combine the flour, cornmeal, powdered sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika. 3. Heat about a fourth of the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. In batches, dip the chicken into the milk and egg mixture, then into the flour mixture. Cook a few minutes on each side until the chicken “gator bait” pieces are browned and the chicken is cooked through. 4. Continue cooking until all pieces are cooked. Serve with swamp sauce. For the Swamp Sauce Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine well. Can be refrigerated or served at room temperature. For more details, go to:

Georgia: Dawg Chow Cinnamon Chocolate Snack Mix You can’t have an SEC Tailgate Special without something sweet and special from the Georgia Bulldogs! So we busted out this ADDICTIVE and delicious Dawg Chow Cinnamon Chocolate Snack Mix for your next Georgia Tailgate. You’ve heard of Puppy Chow snack mix right? Nah. No puppies in Athens. All Dawgs! Our recipe features the classic cereal…half coated with chocolate and peanut butter. The other half is candied with a cinnamon-chocolate mixture that you will love. Cinnamon. Yes. And peanuts. Of course, we’ve gotta have honey roasted peanuts. This is Georgia after all. BUY THIS: 10 cups of Chex cereal divided (any combination of rice, corn, wheat) 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips divided 1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts 1 cup powdered sugar 1 cup red and black candies M&M’s, etc. 3/4 cup cinnamon Red Hot candy 4 TB salted butter divided

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter 1/4 cup water COOK THAT: 1. Divide Chex cereal into two large bowls. Set aside. 2. In a medium sized bowl, microwave 1 cup of chocolate chips, peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of butter in 15 second increments. Stir after each time. Continue until smooth. 3. Pour the chocolate & peanut butter mixture over one of the bowls of cereal. Stir well until cereal is well coated. 4. Put the powdered sugar in a large zip lock bag or paper bag. Pour the chocolate coated cereal in the bag. Shake and turn the bag until the cereal is well covered in sugar. Pour the mixture onto parchment or wax paper in an even layer to cool.


5. In the (now empty) chocolate bowl, stir together the remaining chocolate chips, butter, and the cinnamon candies. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each time, until the candies start to get gooey and soft. Add the water, stir and cook until smooth. 6. Working quickly (as the cinnamon candies will cause this mixture to harden faster), pour the cinnamon & chocolate mixture over the other bowl of cereal. Stir to coat well, and pour onto paper until cool. (Do not toss this batch in sugar.) 7. When the cereal has cooled completely, combine in a large airtight container with the peanuts and red and black candy. Toss to combine, and serve. For more details, go to:

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FOOD&DRINK Kentucky: Hot Kentucky Brown Sliders Kentucky is known for many fine things. Horse racing. Basketball. Bluegrass. Bourbon. The color blue. But how about Hot Kentucky Brown Sandwiches? This legendary open-faced turkey sandwich is well known throughout the state as being one of the best things to ever appear on a plate. We had to give it a shot for the ultimate Kentucky Tailgate. Once you try this recipe, let me know what you think‌but we nailed it. These Hot Kentucky Brown Sliders are so good. Yummy turkey, buttered buns, fresh ripe tomato, cheese gravy (yes, I said CHEESE GRAVY), and bacon. You can thank us later. BUY THIS For the White Cheddar Gravy

a baking dish. Brush the buns with half of the butter mixture.

1 TB butter

6. Place a layer of turkey on the buns, then a slice of tomato. Top the tomato with about 2 tablespoons of the cheese gravy. Break each bacon slice in half, and criss

1 1/2 TB all purpose flour 1 cup milk

cross over the gravy. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of white cheddar over the bacon, then top with the top half of the slider buns. 7. Brush the remaining butter and spice mixture on top of the buns, then place in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the tops are golden brown. 8. Top with additional butter (optional), and serve with the remaining White Cheddar Gravy. For more details, go to:

A pinch of black pepper A pinch of nutmeg A pinch of paprika 1/4 tsp salt 1 ounce white cheddar shredded For the Sliders 12 slider buns 12 - 16 oz sliced turkey 2-3 tomatoes sliced 12 slices bacon cooked 4 TB butter plus additional for serving if desired 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp paprika 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese White Cheddar Gravy COOK THAT 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a medium sized sauce pan, melt 1 TB of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until smooth and bubbly. Stir constantly. Slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth. Stir in a pinch each of black pepper, nutmeg, and paprika. Heat to a low boil, stirring frequently until the sauce starts to thicken. 3. Remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. Set the White Cheddar Gravy aside. 4. Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave. (Heat in 5 to 10 second increments until completely melted. Stir in 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of paprika. 5. Place the bottom half of slider buns in

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FOOD&DRINK Ole Miss: Gosh Almighty Pimento Cheese BLT’s You will not find an Ole Miss Tailgate party without the Southern classic pimento cheese. Many Mississippians claim their state is the birthplace of real pimento cheese. As far as I am concerned, it is a food group. Savory cheddar cheese, creamy mayonnaise, and special additions liven up any football party! Especially these Gosh Almighty Pimento Cheese BLT’s. Yes, yes we did. Homemade pimento cheese spread topped with bacon, tomato, and lettuce. The crowd will go wild with this deliciously addictive party sandwich.  Attention all you Rebels out there, this recipe is for you.  BUY THIS: 16 oz Monterrey Jack cheese

Playing SEC football in LSU’s Tiger Stadium (aka “Death Valley”) is one of the scariest games on the schedule. First of all, just think about 92,000-plus ragin’ Cajun football fans after a day of tailgating. Uh…yeah. But I guarantee if you make a pot of this Cajun Jambalaya on game day, you’ll have nothing to fear besides running out. (Double batch is highly recommended.)

1 1/2 cups Duke’s mayo

BUY THIS: 1 1/2 pounds venison andouille sausage sliced

8 oz sliced pimentos drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 TB sugar

1 bell pepper seeded and diced

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 onion peeled and diced

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped

1/4 tsp paprika A good quality white sandwich bread we used white country bread

3 cloves garlic minced 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning blend


1 1/2 cups long grain rice uncooked


2 cups chicken stock

Bacon Strips cooked

12 ounces beer

COOK THAT: 1. Shred half of the Monterrey Jack cheese to regular shred. Shred the other half to fine shreds. This creates a creamier texture to the pimento cheese spread.

2 tablespoons hot sauce more to taste

2. Shred the cheddar cheese to regular shred size. 3. Combine the cheeses with the mayo, pimentos, sugar, Worcestershire, pepper, and paprika. Combine very well. 4. For each sandwich, toast two pieces of white bread. Spread a thick layer of pimento cheese spread onto the bottom piece. Top with two strips of bacon, lettuce and tomato.


Louisiana State University: Death Valley Cajun Jambalaya

2 bay leaves

1 pinch cayenne pepper more to taste green onions chopped, for optional garnish COOK THAT: 1. Heat oil in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook the sliced andouille until browned, about 7 minutes. 2. Add the chopped peppers, onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Sprinkle half of the Cajun seasoning over the top. Stir and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are crisp tender, about 8 minutes. 3. Stir in the uncooked rice. Combine with the sausage and vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 4. Add the chicken stock, beer, hot sauce, bay leaves, remaining Cajun seasoning, and cayenne. Stir to combine well. 5. Increase heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.  6. Keep an eye on the heat, and do not remove the lid while simmering. The jambalaya is done when the rice is tender and the mixture is very slightly sticky.  7. If there is too much liquid in the pot at the end of cooking time, remove the lid, increase heat slightly and cook until liquid is gone.

5. Slice into halves diagonally, or quarters for serving a crowd.

8. Serve in bowls with fresh chopped green onions, additional hot sauce and seasoning

For more details, go to:

For more details, go to:

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FOOD&DRINK Mississippi State: Mississippi Mud Dessert Dip Any self-respecting Southerner can tell you all about the ooey-gooey goodness of an old-fashioned Mississippi Mud cake. This tailgate recipe for Mississippi Mud Dessert Dip is inspired by that classic recipe. Rich chocolate dip is blended with bites of pecan, chocolate chips and marshmallows for a dessert no one at your next Mississippi State tailgate will be able to resist. P.S. Don’t skip our fudgy topping! It takes the cake…well…the dip. BUY THIS: For the Mississippi Mud Dessert Dip 8 ounces cream cheese softened 8 ounces whipped topping thawed 18 ounces dry brownie mix 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup 2 tablespoons milk 1 cup mini marshmallows 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 1/2 cup chopped pecans For the “Mud” Fudge Topping 2 tablespoons butter melted 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1 1/2 tablespoons milk 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup powdered sugar 1 pinch salt Dippers apples sliced strawberries hulled chocolate graham crackers COOK THAT: For the Mississippi Mud Dip 1. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese until smooth. 2. On low speed blend in the whipped topping. Increase speed and whip until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 3. Add the chocolate syrup, milk, and dry brownie mix. On low speed, mix until ingredients are incorporated. Increase

speed and beat until the dip is smooth and all lumps are gone, about 3 minutes. 4. Fold in the mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and pecans. Transfer to a serving bowl. For the “Mud” Fudge Topping 1. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.

2. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Continue to blend until the mixture is shiny and smooth. 3. Pour the fudge topping over the prepared dip. Garnish with more chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Serve with dippers. For more details, go to:

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FOOD&DRINK Missouri: Mizzou Tiger Tail Pretzel Sticks These Mizzou Tiger Tail candy coated pretzel sticks were SO FUN to make! And just a few ingredients : pretzel rods, candy melts, and sprinkles. This is a great way to get your kids involved prepping for your next Missouri Tailgate. Each sweet & salty pretzel is uniquely decorated. You can go Bold and Gold or show your stripes! School spirit is definitely a must on SEC weekends, and this fun tailgate party snack is a great way to show your Tiger pride. BUY THIS: 1 12 oz bag salted pretzel rods 1 10 oz bag yellow Wilton candy melts 1 10 oz bag black Wilton candy melts Sprinkles of choice gold, yellow, black, etc COOK THAT: 1. Place a large sheet of parchment paper over your working surface. 2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the yellow candy melts according to package directions. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted through and smooth. 3. Repeat the process for the black candy melts.

Tennessee: Big Orange Smokeys with Checkerboard Relish Big Orange Smokeys with Checkerboard Relish are perfect for your next Tennessee Tailgate or any football party. This tailgate recipe will make you wanna break out Rocky Top and sing! Wait, that’s every day for a Tennessee fan, right? Ever hear of little smokies? Yeah, we have, too. But we’re not having it. A true SEC tailgate party deserves big and bold flavors. This recipe features a winning team of sweet orange marmalade and spicy chili sauce with slow-simmered smoked saugages. Big Orange Smokeys are our way of going big or going home. Sweet, spicy, loud, and a big ol’ country mess. With a checkboard finish. There’s no place like home.

4. Either spoon some of the melted candy into a small narrow cup, or use a spoon to coat the pretzel sticks in desired color.

BUY THIS For the Big Orange Smokeys

5. Top with sprinkles of desired color, create tiger stripes with alternate color, or whatever you would like.

1 TB oil if you are browning in a skillet first

2 16 oz packages of smoked sausages 1 18 oz jar orange marmalade

6. If the chocolate hardens, reheat as needed.

1 12 oz bottle chili sauce

7. *Note: work with one pretzel at a time. The candy coating will harden quickly.

1 TB Sriracha or more to taste

8. Let the candy coated pretzel sticks harden for about 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

For the Checkerboard Relish 1 large orange bell pepper seeded and diced

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1 1/2 cups green cabbage diced


1 small white onion peeled and diced 2/3 cup water 1/3 cup white vinegar 3 TB white sugar 1 tsp dill weed 1 tsp mustard seed 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp black pepper

COOK THAT For the Big Orange Smokeys 1. Cut sausages into serving sized pieces. We cut some in half lengthwise as well. If desired, cook in oil in a skillet to brown the sausages. 2. In a crockpot or slow cooker, combine the orange marmalade, chili sauce, and Sriracha. Stir to combine well. Place the sausages in the sauce and coat well. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. 3. Serve on fresh buns with Checkerboard Relish. For the Checkerboard Relish 1. Dice the orange bell pepper, onions, and cabbage to the same size pieces. 2. In a bowl, combine the water, vinegar, sugar and spices. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vegetables and stir well. Refrigerate before serving. For more details, go to:

1/4 tsp salt


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FOOD&DRINK South Carolina: Cocky’s Carolina Mustard Wings For your South Carolina Tailgate! I think this is my favorite recipe we have done so far in our SEC Football Tailgate Special. As a matter of fact, Cocky’s Carolina Mustard Wings just might be the best chicken wings I have ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot of chicken wings. Perfectly crispy breading, not greasy. And once you toss them in our one of a kind Carolina Mustard sauce …WOW. These will certainly be the crave-worthy item that everyone will be raving about. BUY THIS: For the Wings

2 TB brown sugar

1 large pack of fresh chicken wings

1 tsp black pepper

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

COOK THAT: For the Wings 1. Cut chicken wings at the joint into wings and drums, discarding the wing tips. Place the wings and drums into a large dish, such as a 9x13 baking pan or other container.

2 TB Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp all purpose seasoning of choice 1/2 tsp garlic powder Oil for deep frying For the Mustard Sauce 2/3 cup yellow prepared mustard 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce 1/2 cup butter

2. In a bowl, combine flour, cayenne, paprika, all purpose seasoning, and garlic powder. Sprinkle the flour and seasoning mixture on top of the chicken wings. Toss with your hands to coat all of the wings.

3. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 4. In a deep fryer, heat vegetable or peanut oil to approximately 365 degrees. In small batches, fry the chicken wings for about 12 minutes per batch. The wings will be golden brown and no longer pink at the bone. (Your cooking time may vary based on the oil used, cooker, and size of wing.) 5. Remove from heat, shake to remove excess oil, and drain on brown paper bags or newspaper. 6. Place a serving in a bowl, and toss with desired amount of sauce and serve hot! For the Mustard Sauce In a sauce pan, combine all sauce ingredients. Heat over medium low heat, stirring frequently until all ingredients are combined and dissolved. Heat to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Refrigerate any leftovers. For more details, go to: https://

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Texas A & M: 12th Man Texas Chili When I think of Texas, I think of two things. Beef and football. The best recipe to throw down a Texas Aggie Tailgate Party? A big spicy pot of 12th Man Texas Chili! Big chunks of prime beef and bold chipotle peppers and spices, slow simmered and then served with corn chips and cheese. Awesome. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the flavor of this chili. But just one little thing…we may have a controversy on our hands….you see, there’s beans. BUY THIS: 5 cups beef we used a rump roast, trimmed and cubed

1/2 tsp Chupacabra Seasoning Blend or any all purpose blend

4 strips bacon

1 TB butter

Reserved bacon drippings

1 16 oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed**optional

1 bell pepper seeded and diced 1/2 onion diced 1/4 cup canned chipotles in liquid, cut into small pieces 1/2 TB minced garlic 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 1 12 oz can light beer 1 10 oz can original Rotel tomatoes 1 cup water 1/4 cup chili powder 1 TB brown sugar 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp paprika


1/4 tsp black pepper

1 16 oz can pinto beans drained and rinsed**optional COOK THAT: 1. Cut bacon into small pieces. Cook over medium high heat in a large pot. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving the bacon drippings in the pot. 2. Increase heat slightly, and in small batches, sear the beef pieces until brown on all sides in the bacon grease. Set aside, continuing to cook in small batches. If you overcrowd the pan the beef will not brown. 3. Reduce heat to medium. In the same pot, cook the bell pepper, onion and garlic.

Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers, stirring to combine well. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. 4. Return the browned meat to the pot. Add the cooked bacon, crushed tomatoes, Rotel, water, beer, sugar, and all spices. Combine well. 5. If you are using beans, add them now. 6. Increase the temperature to bring the chili to a low boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3 to 4 hours. Or, transfer the chili to a slow cooker, and cook over low heat until the beef is tender. The chili will be thicker if cooked on the stove. 7. Serve with your favorite fixings: cornbread, corn chips, cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, salsa, etc. For more details, go to: https://

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FOOD&DRINK Vanderbilt: Nashville Hot Chicken Wraps Hot and spicy, full of tangy flavor and loads of cheese, these Nashville Hot Chicken Wraps are the perfect game day treat when cheering on your Vandy Boys. Sometimes hot and always cheesy, the Commodore would definitely approve. So anchor down, grab your groceries, and let’s kick this season off in a big way. BUY THIS: 3 chicken breasts boneless, skinless 3 tablespoons butter divided 1/2 tablespoon hot chicken seasoning 8 ounces cream cheese softened 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded 1/2 cup hot sauce 2 cups iceberg lettuce shredded 8 flour tortillas 10-inch celery optional ranch dressing optional COOK THAT: 1. Cut the chicken in half lengthwise. Slice each chicken half into thin strips. 2. Sprinkle the hot chicken seasoning over the chicken. Toss to coat all sides. 3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add a third of the seasoned chicken. Cook until golden brown on both sides and the center is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a covered dish. Repeat with the other two portions of butter and chicken. 4. When the chicken is cooked, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and hot sauce in a large bowl. Fold in the cooked chicken. 5. Warm the flour tortillas. Assemble each hot chicken wrap by adding a portion of the hot chicken and cheese mixture to the center of a tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce. Fold the sides in and fold the chicken wrap over on itself.  6. To serve, cut each wrap in half. Serve with celery sticks and ranch dressing if desired. For more details, go to:

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by Emma-Blake Byrum, for Inside Tailgating




s the regular season kicks off, our favorite NFL fan bases are gearing up for another exciting season of football, tailgating and more. To help prepare for the upcoming season, let’s take a closer look at what we believe are some of the NFL’s best traditions for tailgaters and fans alike across the country. We break it down by picking our favorite tradition in each division.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills fans are already known for their tailgating passion, but the so-called “Bills Mafia” took it to new heights last season. Bills fans celebrated one of their best seasons in years by….table-breaking. Yes, those zany fans found new and interesting ways to destroy their party food platforms, as was evidenced in a slew of videos that went viral on social media. Fans seemed to take it as a challenge throughout the season to find newer and better ways to break their portable furniture. Talk about your semidangerous, and fairly expensive tradition. But hats off to Bills fans for originality. Apparently to join the Bills Mafia, all you need is a plastic table and a creative way to break it.

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AFC North

In Pittsburgh, Steeler Nation is identified by the ubiquitous yellow wave of the beloved “Terrible Towel.” The tradition of waving bright yellow towels dates back to the Steelers’ 1975 Super Bowl run. The late broadcaster Myron Cope encouraged fans to follow his lead and bring their yellow dish towels to a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts and whip them around to hype up the players. As the Steelers continued to advance toward their first Super Bowl title, more Steeler fans followed suit. Soon, stadiums, tailgates and living rooms across Steeler nation were filled with spinning yellow towels. Once the Steelers defeated the Cowboys in Super Bowl X, the Terrible Towel became a staple. Cope eventually donated the rights for the now wildly famous “Terrible Towels” to the Allegheny Valley School for the disabled, which has netted the school more than $1 million.


In Jacksonville, a coastal city with a reputation for fun, a group of diehard Jaguar fans combine team spirit with the drinking kind in their own unique tailgating tradition called Circling Up. Members of the Teal Street Hooligans, a grassroots fan club established in 2007, line up in a circle while fans seeking initiation run around the inside of the circle high-fiving club members. At the end of the run, they shotgun a can of beer to a chorus of cheers. The rowdy tailgate held at the corner of Duval and Bryan Streets outside TIAA Bank Stadium is known to “Circle Up” every 30 minutes. It’s even drawn some legendary former Jaguars players like receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor to participate in the tradition.

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AFC West

We can celebrate Oakland Raiders fans in their natural element for one, maybe two more seasons before the team moves to Las Vegas. Raider Nation is known for its, let’s say, spirited fan base, and tailgaters who love face and body paint. Not only are fans decked out in black and silver, they are quite literally dripping in their team’s colors. Family, friends and fellow Raiders tailgaters become unrecognizable at pregame parties as they transform into their silver and black alter egos. Talk about your game face! Adorned costumes add to the fun. Not only is face and body paint readily available at tailgates but at booths within the stadium. Grab some brushes and a mirror and get your game face on!

NFC East

BBQ isn’t just for Texas, Kansas City or the South. New York Giants tailgaters love to stop by the Big Blue BBQ truck. The famous BBQ truck is parked outside MetLife Stadium waiting to serve up game day food and northern hospitality. The brainchild of three tailgate lovers 10 years ago now boasts as many as 200 tailgaters before each Giants home game. The truck features a rotating menu with various BBQ items and other mouthwatering munchies. In addition to the grub, the truck comes equipped with a 70-inch flat screen TV, heated tents, and a private bathroom. Check out more Fans & Thrills at



NFC North

The cheese capital of the U.S.—Wisconsin—is also the capital of NFL tailgating. Green Bay Packers’ tailgates are legendary for their friendliness, their passion, and of course, their cheese. After Packers fans picked up the name “cheeseheads,” in the late 1980s an avid fan, Ralph Bruno, crafted the triangular, foam cheese hat—and the nickname was forever sealed. Cheese-wear is the most appropriate Packers tailgate couture this side of the football jersey. And it’s comprised of more than just the cheesehead hats now; there are shoes, shirts, ties and more.

NFC South

New Orleans has quite the head start on setting a game day tailgating scene, given that The Big Easy is already home to Mardi Gras, jazz music and some of the greatest soul food on the planet. But then again, Mardi Gras only comes once a year. During the Saints’ season, Bourbon Street transforms into a gold and black Mardis Gras once a week. Can you imagine “tailgating” on or near Bourbon Street? It’s only a mile and a half from the SuperDome, and features live bands, DJs, and a slew of options for both watching the game and partying afterward. There’s a reason why the Super Bowl has been held in New Orleans 10 times.


Tailgating is all about the fans, right? And who has a more passionate fanbase than the Seattle Seahawks? The Seahawks are the only NFL franchise to retire the No. 12 jersey, in honor of their fans—Seattle’s so-called 12th man. (Former Seahawks receiver Steve Largent’s No. 12 was retired a good eight years later.) The Seattle Space Needle has flown a No. 12 flag in honor of Seahawk fans, so of course the No. 12 flag is prevalent at tailgates. Their famous No. 12 jerseys with “FAN” on the back are to a Seahawk fan what a cheesehead hat is to a Packer fan.

The sun might not shine as brightly in the Pacific Northwest as in some parts of the country, but it never seems to dampen the spirit at Seahawk tailgates, where fans join the 12th man by cheering from outside CenturyLink Field. Inside it’s well-documented that Seattle fans set a Guinness World Record for crowd noise when one of their roars was recorded at 137.6 decibels. That’s almost as loud as a jet taking off.

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In Atlanta's NEW "BACKYARD"


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by Carroll Rogers Walton (Twitter: @CarrollRogers)


eams around the NFL are stepping up their tailgating game, and the Atlanta Falcons are leading the charge this 2018 season. One year after opening their state-of the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons are launching the Home Depot Backyard, an 11-acre greenspace on the former site of the Georgia Dome that on game days will be dedicated primarily to tailgating.

The Falcons and the Atlanta United of Major League Soccer will share The Home Depot Backyard, which is adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The space will also be used for college events on a case-by-case basis, so don’t be surprised to see tailgating at The Home Depot Backyard before the SEC Championship Game, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and future

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FANS&THRILLS Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games. The Home Depot Backyard is slated to open Sept. 16, when the Falcons host the Carolina Panthers in their first home game of the season. Arthur Blank, Falcons owner and co-founder of Home Depot, envisioned much more than a parking lot for Mercedes-Benz Stadium once the Georgia Dome came down, but a multi-use space to be shared with the city of Atlanta. The result is a natural grass greenspace that will be used for community events throughout the year, whether it’s a movie night on the green, flag football or a local arts festival. The area includes a permanent playground, biking and walking trails, a sports field and public restrooms. But on game day, it’s all about tailgating. “We wanted to enhance the game day experience,” said Don Rovak, Vice President for Sales and Service with AMB Sports & Entertainment, a subsidiary of the company comprised of the Falcons, the United and MercedesBenz Stadium. “We didn’t want it to


be just a place for 700 cars to park and get some parking revenue and call it a day. We looked at it as something that we’ve lacked here on this footprint for a long time—that tailgating experience that’s on brand with the same service expertise we’ve quickly gained a reputation for at MercedesBenz Stadium.” The Falcons are one of a half dozen NFL teams to partner in recent months with the Auburn, Ga.—based company called The Tailgate Guys, which provides turn-key hospitality. The Tailgate Guys offer tailgaters packages that range from reserving a tent stocked with a cooler of ice to catering a corporate event. “Once I listened to them and heard what they do, it really aligned with what we envisioned,” said Rovak, of joining forces with Tailgate Guys. “Had we tried to do this ourselves it would have been very difficult, and we would have been missing that piece of expertise.” The Home Depot Backyard is similar, in a way, to what the Green

Bay Packers have given their fans at Lambeau Field with the Johnsonville Tailgate Village; it’s a place to congregate. The Home Depot Backyard, while being an outdoor space in Atlanta’s warmer climate, gives Falcons fans a meeting place in a downtown setting that can be intimidating to fans unfamiliar with the city or inconvenient to those who are. “We talk to a lot of people who are season ticket members who either because of when they purchased or the price point that they purchased might like tailgating pregame together but sit in different places in the stadium,” Rovak said. “This allows an area where they can have their tent every game. They can tell their friends to meet up with them and it’s already set. So we are really excited about it.” On football game days the Home Depot Backyard will accommodate 360 cars. One third of the space will be used for parking and tailgating by season ticket holders. One third will be a tent-only hospitality village managed by the Tailgate Guys, and one third

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FANS&THRILLS will be used for premium parking. Those percentages are subject to change, Rovak said, depending on fans’ response over the course of this first year. And they don’t want the area for Tailgate Guys to be considered “premium” only. “We look at this as a very inclusive environment for the single game fans, the season ticket members, or somebody who is purchasing corporate hospitality,” Rovak said. “There’s an area for our season ticket members to order everything they need from Tailgate Guys, so they know they’re at the same tent, the same location, having already preordered Fox Brothers barbecue and that’s fantastic. Or if they’re a singlegame buyer, somebody in town, and they want to bring their own six-packs of beer and go by Publix on the way in and have a tent waiting for them with a cooler and ice, there’s that as well.” For years, professional sports franchises seemed to have felt threatened by the tailgating culture and the idea that if fans bring their own food and beverages to eat pregame, they won’t go in the gates early and buy what the team is selling. But that never seemed to stop tailgaters from tailgating. Creating tailgating areas

like The Home Depot Backyard is an acknowledgement by the Falcons that they recognize fans want to tailgate, and they’ve decided to embrace it. “Especially in Atlanta, with the traffic and some of our late customers, we’ve had more meetings than I care to talk about in the last 11 years that I’ve been here about how do we get people in earlier,” Rovak said. “At some point you focus on the fan. And from a fan’s point of view, fans are going to tailgate. You can either try to tell them no, they shouldn’t, to come in earlier or you can embrace it and give them an environment that is on brand, on your footprint that enhances game day, and makes it special so that

they will want to continue to come back. That’s what I think we’ve made the decision for…. “With the fans-first pricing that we’ve launched, we have already seen people coming in the gates earlier, and we want to continue to focus on that. At the same time, I think providing our fans with different choices makes this a special place that hopefully fans will want to come and participate—whether they want to tailgate early or whether they want to come in and be the first one in the gate.” For fans interested in finding out more about Falcons tailgating packages, go to www.mercedesbenzstadium. com/the-home-depot-backyard.

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Profile for Inside Tailgating Magazine

Inside Tailgating: Fall 2018