Tusk to Tail: Bringing vodka and beer for a pre-game experience in ‘The Grove’

story by Dale Cullins

Editor’s note: Welcome to the fourth season of Tusk to Tail – 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. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by The City Wire. Legal representation is iffy at best and professional psychological help is typically ignored, if not mocked.

The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
The Hogs are into the final home stretch of the 2015 campaign. Arkansas had a good finish to the season last year, and they have a similar lineup now. Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, and Missouri will close out season. I’d love to see us take three out of four, but two wins will do for a bowl game. The Razorbacks defense will have to step it up a notch to accomplish that, but that is why they play the games, and that is why Tusk to Tail is there to watch them.

Last weekend was a wet one and thus a muddy tailgate despite four bales of straw. Those tailgates require about double the amount of time for clean-up, inventory, and repacking, but it needs to be done to keep on top of everything and to save time before the next game. I wish I could pass along a tip on that but other than more straw, one must endure.

I’ll get a short break from tailgate planning the next two weeks. In Oxford we have been invited to join up with some friends of ours from Little Rock who are Ole Miss fans with a tent in The Grove. We are not sure of the menu at this time, but we will bring some Firefly vodka and beer along to make sure our habits don’t shortchange those of our host in any way.

The weather could be a crapshoot, with rain coming Friday morning and possibly lasting through the game. Now we have to hope The Grove doesn’t look like muddy Victory Village last weekend.

This week’s game time has really worked out for all of our travels this Saturday, because 2:30 p.m. is a great time for The Grove, as that gives the locals motivation to get out early and get things going. Also, the game is over early enough for us all to catch Saturday’s main event of LSU at Alabama.

The past two times I’ve been to Oxford the game was at 11 a.m. That is just too early for most southern fans to get out and to get things cranked up. Things have been subdued and it seems the parties are really just delayed until after the game. I am glad my wife and all of the kids will get to see The Grove in all of its glory come Saturday.

We will have a mixed crew of dads with boys and dads with ladies. Jack is bringing his 16 year old daughter and one of her girlfriends, while my wife Kara and our daughter Spencer joins me. This will be Spencer’s first on-campus road game. She has made some bowl games and the trip to Dallas for Texas A&M, so she is excited to be on another campus for the first time. The Godfather of Tailgating Craig May’s son Lawson will scratch the final stadium off his list of SEC West destinations.

We plan to arrive early and take in the Oxford square and tour around the campus while we wait on the guys from Little Rock to arrive. If you are driving over you have 3 options for your route:
• I-40 through Memphis down 55 and 278 over to Oxford, this is about 6 hours from Fayetteville and 401 miles.

• I-40 to Brinkley, 49 down to Helena and then 278 over to Oxford.  This too is about 6 hours from Fayetteville but only 373 miles; and

• I-40 to Memphis, 78 East over to Holly Springs and then 7 down to Oxford.  Also right at 6 hours and 394 miles.

Options 2 and 3 provide the best scenery but 1 and 3 provide an opportunity to eat in Memphis on Friday night. You really can’t go wrong food-wise, as Option 2 provides stops in the Delta for barbecue and tamales.

As for Oxford, I have included a few places you might consider eating at if you have time on Saturday morning for lunch or evening after the game. Be prepared to wait a while. Oxford is a small town that gets overrun on game weekends.

Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford (7 to 3 p.m.),
Ajax Diner (lunch and dinner),
City Grocery (lunch and dinner)
Taylor Grocery (just outside of town, open only for dinner)

The fans are always pleasant and hospitable in Oxford, so have a good time and maybe the Hogs can pull out a win.

Go Hogs, Beat Rebels!