2022-09-03 17.33.20Ark Vs Cinn

Tusk to Tail: And now a few travel options for the StarkVegas trip

It has been a minute since we last made a trip to Starkville for a tailgate. 2020 was in the midst of the Pandemic, and no fans were allowed. The Hogs eked out a win, and it really pushed the buy-in on this coaching staff.

In 2018, the Northwest Arkansas guys made a pact with our Little Rock crew to split the last games of the year after the timely firing of Chad Morris. The LR guys would make the trip to Starkville and the NWA guys would finish up in Columbia. Those guys took a loss like we did, but their game was 60 degrees and sunny while ours was 40 degrees, cold, and wet. Not an even trade.

We had a basic but fun tailgate to end that season. It was just a few of us hanging out in a Missouri bus stop to avoid the wind and rain. The Hogs were getting crushed, so we left early to find some food and warmth. The best thing to come out of that trip was that Forrest was added to the circle of trust. He is by far the youngest of us, but has added some much-needed perspective and gambling advice.

My last trip to Starkville was in 2016. We all ate Friday lunch at the Oyster Bar and left Little Rock in the late afternoon, hoping to make Greenville for a late dinner at the original Doe’s Steakhouse. Doe’s did not disappoint, and then we headed toward a late arrival into Columbus, Miss. The rain hit us around Lake Village during that drive and was relentless. You could hardly follow the car in front of you. We made it in, of course, but much later than expected due to the rain delay.

The next morning, we drove the few miles back to Starkville and found a lot to park in. As I was driving up the field to park, we had to navigate a small dip in the field. On the incline, my tailgate hauler just slid right out and landed on the field. There was no pin in place to keep the hauler hitched to my tailgate.

The hauler weighs about 50 pounds and the gear added an extra 200 pounds. I could have easily lost that on the drive over. In the driving rain and the close proximity of our vehicles, I could have caused an accident of the worst sort. I’m very thankful to be reminded of that every time I load that hauler. In my defense, I remember going to the spot where the pin was stored and it was not there. I thought I knew where it was but was distracted and never finished the search. Big mistake, huge!

This kickoff time of 11 a.m. is really robbing Razorback fans of a nice tailgating experience. Mississippi State likes a party as much of the rest of us, and this will severely curtail that effort.

If you are traveling from Northwest Arkansas, you have a couple of choices. It’s probably too late to grab a room in StarkVegas or Columbus, leaving just two good options. You could just make the over-and-back from Little Rock, or stay in Memphis the night before to cut it down to a two-hour drive the morning of the game.

Either route from Little Rock is about a four-hour drive. If you hate I-40, then I suggest the Lake Village route. If you want to stay in Lake Village, you have some good dining options. Hit up Rhoda’s Tamales in Lake Village or Fox’s Pizza Den for a great Steak. The pizza is good, but the steaks are why you go. The other option is the hit the original Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Miss. They never disappoint.

My small crew will be getting to Memphis late on Friday. We plan to get up early to arrive in Starkville by 8:30 a.m. to tailgate. It will be pretty bare bones this week, just a tent and a few drinks.  With any luck, we can set up next to our friend the Hogfather and his faithful following. After the game we will head back to Memphis for some BBQ.

If you were willing to pay the prices and lucky enough to grab a room in Starkville, you will want to hit some of the following spots:
• The Little Dooey BBQ
• Veranda
• Oby’s Cajun Dining
• Bin 612 Pizza
• Two Brothers Smoked Meats
• Strange Brew
• Petty’s BBQ

My tailgate tip this week is to check your list twice. On a road trip you have little room for mistakes. Sure, you can always hit the local Wal-Mart, but if it’s for something important and expensive you have few options. Make a list and check it twice. Good luck, happy tailgating, and Go Hogs, Beat Dogs!

Editor’s note: Now in its 11th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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