Tusk to Tail 2014: Gettin’ prepped with chili, Hot Toddy’s, chicken and straw

I don’t know about everyone else, but I still have a little extra pep in my step after that game last Saturday. Greg Houser and I pulled up at my house to unload the trailer at 12:20 a.m. Sunday morning after a 15-hour LSU tailgate. We were dead tired, but still buzzing from the win.

We all learned a few things from that tailgate. It was the coldest I had hosted, and we were making some assumptions about what would be needed and how much. One further challenge was the length of the tailgate. With kickoff at such a late hour, more of everything would be needed, and the cold weather could affect what people wanted to drink. Not to mention that the people who stay all day need to eat twice and will go through more beverages.

We correctly anticipated a late-arriving crowd due to the weather, helping to stretch our food and drink supply closer to game time. At 3 p.m. we had about 30 people kicking around and watching the Bama-Mississippi State game. An hour later it was crowded, and by 5, our tent was packed.

I’m guessing the word had circulated that Tusk to Tail was a warm oasis in the frozen tundra of Victory Village. We had expected about 65 guests, and had well over 80, perhaps even 90 folks trying to maneuver around the tent for food, drink and most importantly, warmth. The coffee and hot chocolate bar was a big hit and the four gas patio heaters were a life saver. I would guess we kept it well above 50 degrees in the tent, maybe warmer.

The bright spot was that we made it to game time with plenty of food to spare, and a marginal amount of alcohol. If you have ever thrown together a tailgate, you know that game time is the magic hour. After that, it is every man for himself.

However, the cold weather game was much more expensive than a regular game. Buying coffee, hot chocolate, cider, water, creamer, sweetener extra liquors, plus the regular food and booze made a big impact on the overall budget for the tailgate. Catering would have been a further expense which we were able to avoid last week with Jack Clark and my wife Kara providing great dishes that everyone enjoyed.

This week’s game against Ole Miss will be much easier to plan. With cool weather here to stay, I have asked the Tusk to Tail ladies to bring in homemade chili with all of the fixings. I’ll cater in some chicken to add another option, but with the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, it is best to keep it simple. We may offer Hot Toddy’s in the bar again. It’s not just a famous cheer for our Rebel opponents – the warm cocktails kept folks warm on the inside as well as the out last week.

Rain and a high of 58 are the forecast, so that could keep the number of guests down, but I think last weekend’s win will be more of a draw than the weather can scare away. There is still some straw down to help with any mud in our tent area, and two heaters should keep the chill off during the day.

I can’t believe our last home tailgate is upon us so quickly. It seems like yesterday when we were loading up for Auburn, excited for the season and the team’s fortunes to unfold. I look forward to seeing everyone come out this Saturday, and if the Hogs can grab a win here or at Missouri, we will add another tailgate to the season at a bowl location.

Go Hogs, Beat Rebels!