Tusk to Tail: Tips from a pro on tailgating for the Texas game … and a note to Elvis
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2004 was the last time the Hogs hosted Texas on campus. Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones played well, but had a late, costly fumble in the red zone that blew the Hogs chances for a chip shot field goal for the win.
Tusk to Tail was just a merry band of three in those days. Craig May, David Rice and myself would meet up for an hour or so before the game to toss down a few beers and discuss the Hogs’ chances. There were some organized tailgates around in those days, but not many. Most tailgates were located in the Pit of the north end zone parking lot 44.
We mostly gathered ideas for how to improve our tailgate from road trips in the SEC. Even today we still keep an eye out for new equipment, time and cost saving ideas to improve our current tailgate, or things to make it more fun.
This game, with it being Texas, is no exception.
The theme naturally lends itself to TexMex (chicken and beef fajitas) served with margaritas. Our reputation won’t allow us to serve just any margarita, so we are renting a frozen margarita machine. We have enough juice to run it by coupling two of our Honda 2000’s together. David’s company manufactures the margarita mix, and we are looking forward to trying it. Just add water and tequila, then flip the switch. It should be fun and refreshing on a hot day.
It’s always a bit tricky with late games as far as feeding the crowd is concerned. If you have a small crowd of 10 or 15 it’s not too much of an issue. Buy enough to feed folks twice if you go all day. In our case, when we have such large crowds, it’s really just not possible. I try to let everyone know when the food will be ready so they can be sure to be there at that time. If they arrive later we may not have the full menu available but there is usually something to snack on at least.
As a rule of thumb, I plan on each adult eating 5 ounces of protein. After that, it’s snacks, chips, dips, and finger foods. Don’t waste a lot of time on sides or salads. Those are the things that are thrown away at the end of the night. The meat and the dips are what gets cleaned out. Trust me.
The game is officially a sellout. Judging by the number of ticket requests and tailgating invites being requested, we should have our first “sold out” tailgate in maybe six or eight years. I may even hand out some wrist bands to help identify friend from foe.
It’s a late kick-off at 6 p.m., and a predicted high in the low 90’s. Depending upon when you set up, all of your resources will be taxed. You should go through more cups than usual and you will require a lot more ice, water and beverages in general. Bring extra coolers to store extra ice in until needed.
Another suggestion, if you don’t have fridge space at home, is to ice down your beverages Friday night. Drain them Saturday morning and re-ice at that time. Filling a cooler with warm cans takes a lot of ice. If you’re not careful, you will find yourself with a cooler full of cool water and cans by 11 a.m., with seven hours still to go.
Just like last week, with this heat it’s still a good idea to stay away from dips or desserts that require being kept cold. Provide some Gatorade for the kiddos as they don’t like water and it might discourage them from drinking too many soft drinks. Keep some sunscreen handy as the east stands will still be exposed for over an hour after kick off.
Keep in mind that the traffic will be shut down around 2 p.m. this week. Overall, traffic around the stadium will be packed. I’m afraid even a late kick off will not help. Leave earlier than you think you need to.
If you tear down your tailgate after the game, be sure to pack a light source. The game will end well after nine so it will be dark. I always run the lights off of our TV generator as those are always on and that way the lights will be on regardless if I’m there to turn them on or not.
Lastly, I’d like to throw out a big thank you to Elvis Moya with the university athletic department. Over the past two tailgate seasons he has been a real help to Tusk to Tail as we adapt to having Hog Town on our doorstep. He’s always been willing to listen to our concerns and does as much as he can to alleviate them. Thank you Elvis.
GO HOGS, BEAT TEXAS
Editor’s note: Now in its 10th 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.