In my house, we’ve been counting down the days with the Baylor Bears, and the time has finally come – it’s football season in Waco! This is a season that my family looks forward to every year. When we moved here, I found myself in college football heaven! So many great teams all within a couple of hours drive. Just amazing! Our first year here, we bought tickets to see a Baylor football game and I was in awe of how everything worked BEFORE the game even started. I don’t just mean the pomp and circumstance of the band and the students, I’m talking TAILGATE. I’ve seen other schools tailgate, but none like this! Since I am nowhere near a professional, I enlisted the help of a gracious friend who is a tailgating queen to give me the ins and outs of tailgating like a local at McLane Stadium.
Where can we tailgate? If you plan to tailgate on campus, spots are rented out by a company called Tailgate Guys. They offer sites all over campus in different locations called Bear Park, Bear Island, Bear Walk and Bear Lawn. Planning is of the utmost importance because these spots are annual rentals, and you want to get a spot before football starts. There are also parking lots (Brazos Parking) available across Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. No tents in those lots. Or you can park at the Ferrell Center and shuttle over to the stadium.
What will we see when we get there? Green and gold everywhere! Students are everywhere; from both schools playing that day. There is a lot of school spirit in this small town! The band and cheerleaders march in over the bridge into the stadium. The Baylor Line brings the team onto the field. On occasion, ESPN will host their show, College Gameday, at Baylor. (Check local listings to know if they will be there.)
As a first timer, you should know that this sort of tailgating is serious business. Not only are there tents with tables and chairs at every spot, but there are trailers that are designed for tailgating with ample storage and televisions, full sized barbecues, heaters for colder weather and lots and lots of food! These tailgaters plan for at least two full meals at a game. If it’s an early game, it’s breakfast and lunch, but the later games are geared toward lunch and dinner. Late games sometime require pre-made food that can just be heated up. And I don’t mean just one cooler full. I mean feeding an army all day long kind of food. Ribs, brisket tacos, wings, hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers, chips, dips, cookies…the list is endless.
Setup is at least three to four hours before the game. My friend, the tailgate queen, keeps at least three very large coolers for soda, water and beer and an extra one just for the passersby. You heard right – passersby. Tailgating at Baylor is all about community. The Baylor family has deep roots here in Waco and everyone is family on gameday. If you have your own food and drinks and see a table with space, ask to sit down. The spot is paid for, and most are happy to share their area with you.
The best part about going to a tailgate at Baylor is that you really don’t have to bring anything with you. There will be people who are over-prepared and are happy to have you tailgate with them. Some ask for donations, some don’t … word to the wise, offer something to the hosts! Sit with them, listen to their stories of how it used to be, cheer with them as they watch Texas get smashed in the game before ours, and make new friends! You’ll be surprised that despite your being new, you’ll be family in no time!
The countdown is over, let football (and serious tailgating) begin! I hope to see you this Saturday and in many weeks to come. Have fun and remember, Sic ‘em, Bears!