Fire up the grills
Free food brings fans together
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 23:08
The air is electrified through the sea of maroon and white. Plates of food — brisket and hamburgers and hot dogs — pass between the hands of friends and strangers. Red plastic cups slosh as people pitch washers and horseshoes. Aggies have waited impatiently for this moment all year.
Football season has arrived, and so have the tailgaters.
Food has a way of uniting people. Tailgating bonds families, friends, classmates and rival fans together. Macy McCasland, senior agricultural communications and journalism major, has been tailgating with her family since her freshman year.
“My dad was not an Aggie, but my stepmom and her whole family went to A&M so [tailgating] is a pretty big deal,” she said.
The Friday before game day, tailgaters eagerly await the horn to blow, signaling the time to claim a spot.
“My dad comes every Friday and waits at noon for the horn,” McCasland said. “He always has lot 97 by the ag building. Usually everyone has their main tailgating spot, but you get there and you can’t mark off until noon on Friday. They blow a whistle and people go and get their area.”
After the lots have been claimed, tailgaters can begin to set up their tents and grills early Saturday morning.
“I just go and meet my dad the day of the tailgate,” McCasland said. “If the game is at noon, my family is probably there by eight. They get there super early and stay super late. They make it an all-day deal.”
For McCasland, tailgating is first about family, but food is a close second.
“My favorite part is just free food my dad provides, honestly,” she said. “We literally go over there, eat and leave.”
Eric Baltodano, junior kinesiology major and a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, helps set up his fraternity’s tailgate every year and said he enjoys interacting with the different fans.
“I like just hanging out and seeing everybody walk up,” he said. “It is fun to see all the other tailgates. Everyone is so friendly — they invite you in and talk to you. It’s a great way to make new friends and meet new people.”
Heath Bottoms, senior environmental design major, said tailgating can be a great marketing and networking opportunity for businesses to mingle with clients and potential investors.
“I know that it is a big deal for companies to come down for the Aggie game, especially from closer places like Houston, because it is a good time for businesses to socialize with clients,” he said. “The business I worked with this summer loves it. They get up at 4 a.m. on Saturday so they can set up at six or seven.”
Tailgating can be a luxury for college students because there is an abundance of free food and drink.
“I don’t usually go to random tailgates because it is sort of awkward, but I know friends that have gone up to tailgates and everyone is usually cool with it, especially when it is [a] big business because they want college recruitment and also it makes the tailgate look more awesome,” Bottoms said. “People want more people to come to their tailgate so they look more popular than others. It is attractive for businesses.”
Kyle Baldock, senior community health major, said though tailgates are a serious investment of time and work, they are always worth it.
“It is healthy for your soul,” he said. “Maybe not for your body, depending on what food is served and how much alcohol is consumed.”
Garrett Oliver, junior agricultural leadership and development major, said he tailgates out of his backyard because he lives close to campus.
“I just like to tailgate,” Oliver said. “We live right behind Kyle Field and we have a big backyard on our lot. We always have a big cook out. We will probably do brisket, hot dogs and hamburgers for this game. We will also have a bunch of beer, obviously, because what is a tailgate without that?”
Oliver said he usually sets up his tailgate around 7:30 or eight in the morning to be ready for friends and strangers.
“We invite friends, but we also let random people come in,” Oliver said. “We’re not exclusive by any means, we invite