Castleton Spartan fans were tipping back Bud Light and snacking on brownies in one section of the parking lot and enjoying mixed drinks and hotdogs across the way on a beautiful September afternoon. For Rob McClallen, a good friend of our college president, tailgating before the game is extremely important to the football experience.
“The best part of the game is tailgating,” McClallen said.
Knowing someone on the team was the reason for his group attending the game, although they all said that they would come and tailgate at the game anyway for the experience, which always includes a high spirited musical pick-me-up by the Castleton marching band.
“The band is a lot of fun. They add a lot to it,” said McClallen.
Throughout the parking lot outside the stadium, tables were set up with ketchup, mustard, relish and lots of napkin scattered around. Cookies, brownies and piles of chips and dip dotted every table surface under big tents that covered people who screamed with Castleton Spartan spirit.
Then there were the smells.
The scent of grilled hotdogs, hamburgers and sausage and peppers filled the air.
Whether it’s the game itself or other reasons to tailgate, Alex Marcell loves to come back to the old stomping grounds as an alum.
“It is great to come back and see old friends, “said Marcell.
So what does it take to be a good tailgater?
“Lots of food and a full cooler,” said Amy Coloutin, an amateur tailgater looking to go pro in the upcoming season.
It was also advised to bring more food than you are going to need, so you can invite others to join; a great way to meet new people.
To Tom Witham, a local, tailgating is a learned skill. Learning how to keep the cold food cold and the hot food hot and maximizing parking so there’s plenty of space for all to join is key.
For Coloutin, there’s little not to like about the tailgate experience.
“Everyone has their own opinions on what they like and what will work, but just being here and enjoying the great weather and the people is all that is important,” she said.
Even if you don’t enjoy the game of football, you can enjoy tailgating.
And everyone agreed with McClallen about what is needed for a successful tailgate party and a great time.
“Friends, lots of good food, and beer,” he said.