The essentials for tailgating success

Finally late August has arrived, and for Western football loyalists, that can mean only one thing – tailgating.

The time-honored tradition of overconsumption to the sounds of whatever over-the-hill band shows up on DUC South Lawn is back.

For those of you who are new to the Hill, the annual pigskin party often overshadows the event the partiers show up to celebrate: the game.

During last season’s Homecoming contest, there were more fans hunched in a drunken stupor on the South Lawn than there were enjoying the Topper’s landmark victory over Indiana State.

Head football coach David Elson doesn’t admit to ever partaking in the debauchery, but he has respect for the tailgating faithful.

“It is critical that they have fun before the game, but the most important thing, though, is once the game starts, we get them into the stands,” Elson said. “We’ve got great tailgating going on here, but we’ve got to get those tailgaters over into Smith Stadium, in my opinion.”

Getting the party started

Like any good party, a tailgate party must be planned in advance. The perfect mixture of beef and beer must be mapped out by at least July.

By the time August rolls around, the guest list should begin to come together. Don’t forget that long-lost friend with a huge RV that takes up half the parking lot. No matter what happens inside the stadium, you always have a bed in which to sleep it off.

Game day morning is time to stress the final details.

It’s time to buy those last-minute essentials for the best four hours you’ll ever spend in a parking lot.

In my quest to find the essentials of the perfect football fiesta, I enlisted the help of 20 random students from the lunch crowd at the Garrett food court.

I asked the brave souls the eternal question: If you could bring one item and only one item to a tailgate party, what would that item be?

Eight true fans said they needed beer or some other form of alcohol.

Three practical students – all girls – said chairs. Three others pointed out the obvious: food.

Only two said they would need water to beat the summer heat. One would use lemonade for the same purpose.

Another said he’d bring a football, and Elson’s favorite fan proclaimed he would bring his red towel.

Hendersonville senior Nat Lowe is a Topper tailgater who likes to cook brats and steaks on his grill. The experienced fan has advice for first-time tailgaters.

“Get there early in the morning and get a good place to set up,” Lowe said. “If you have anything like an alcoholic beverage, keep it in a cup.”

After reading this guide to tailgating bliss, there should be no reason for Western not to be one of the top tailgating schools in the nation.

Now, what are you doing reading the paper? You should be out tailgating. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. tonight.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected]